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The Estate of 
S. H. Cowell 







Tenth Edition 





The Illustrations are from Copyrighted Originals by 
L. A. Huffman, Miles City, Montana. 

All Rights Reserved 

Made in the United States of America 

The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A. 


Add to Lib. 


who, in his long life, has seldom been 
conscious of a man s rough exterior, 
or unconscious of his obscurest virtue. 



Cowboys are the sternest critics of those 
who would represent the West. No hypoc 
risy, no bluff, no pose can evade them. 

Yet cowboys have made Badger Clark s 
songs their own. So readily have they circu 
lated that often the man who sings the song 
could not tell you where it started. Many 
of the poems have become folk songs of the 
West, we may say of America, for they speak 
of freedom and the open. 

Generous has been the praise given Sun 
and Saddle Leather, but perhaps no criticism 
has summed up the work so satisfactorily as 
the comment of the old cowman who said, 
"You can break me if there s a dead poem in 

the book, I read the hull of it. Who in H 

is this kid Clark, anyway? I don t know how 
he knowed, but he knows." 

That is what proves Badger Clark the real 
poet. He knows. Beyond his wonderful 



presentation of the West is the quality of uni 
versal appeal that makes his work real art. 
He has tied the West to the universe. 

The old cowman is not the only one who 
has wondered who Badger Clark was. 
Charles Wharton Stork, speaking of Sun and 
Saddle Leather, said: "It has splendid flavor 
and fine artistic handling as well. I should 
like to know more of the author, whether he 
was a cow-puncher or merely got inside his 
psychology by imagination." 

Badger Clark was born January i, 1883, at 
Albia, Iowa. His ancestors on his father s 
side were of Puritan stock and had called 
themselves Americans for seven generations. 
His mother s people were Pennsylvania Quak 
ers. His paternal grandfather, a Vermonter, 
moved West in 1857 and invested heavily in 
a town site and manufacturing interests in 
southern Missouri. He was an Abolitionist 
and indiscreet enough to say so. The climate 
of southern Missouri was particularly insa 
lubrious for Abolitionists at that period, and 
Mr. Clark s neighbors took such an ardent 
interest in his opinions that he, with his two 



sons, slept away from home for two months 
because they were expecting to be the guests 
of honor at a tar-and-feather party and did 
not care to involve the women-folk of the 

As the Civil War drew on, the tar-and- 
feather threat was complicated with strong 
possibilities of hemp and this, with malaria, 
made the location so unattractive that Mr. 
Clark trailed north into Iowa, arriving on 
free soil with his family^ two wagon loads 
of household effects, and about one hundred 
and fifty dollars in money. 

The father of the author, after this border 
experience, naturally enlisted in the Union 
army, and served in the Western forces until 
disabled by wounds before Vicksburg. Re 
turning north he entered the ministry of the 
Methodist church and continued therein for 
the rest of his active life, retiring in 1915 after 
an exceptionally successful and honored 
career of fifty-one years in the pulpit. 

Shortly after the birth of Badger Clark the 
family moved to Dakota, which was then 
frontier territory, and the cowboy poet s first 



taste of pioneering was at the age of six 
months, when his mother, in the absence of 
his father and elder brothers, carried him on 
one arm while she drove a plow team and 
turned enough sod to save the home from one 
of the sudden prairie fires of the early days. 

He grew up in, and with, the state of South 
Dakota, spending his teen years in the Black 
Hills at Deadwood. Deadwood at that time 
was trying to live down the reputation for 
exuberant indecorum which she had acquired 
during the gold rush, but her five churches 
operating two hours a week could make little 
headway against the competition of two dance 
halls and twenty-six saloons running twenty- 
four hours a day. This "wide open" condi 
tion of things familiarized Mr. Clark with 
the free-and-easy moral atmosphere of the old 
West, but at the same time had the odd effect 
of making him a teetotaler in defiance of all 
the older poetic traditions. 

During his youth he showed no particular 
literary tendencies beyond an insatiable ap 
petite for books. Luckily for his health this 
was balanced by an equally strong passion for 


outdoor life, hunting, fishing, camping or 
anything of that sort, providing it was not suf 
ficiently practical to interfere with concurrent 
dreaming. During two vacations of his high 
school course he went overland into western 
Wyoming and spent the summer on the ranch 
of an uncle at the foot of the Big Horn Moun 

Having finished the high school with no 
particular scholastic honors, he entered Da 
kota Wesleyan University and studied there 
for a year. At the end of that time he was 
given an opportunity to go to Cuba in con 
nection with one of the colonizing enterprises 
undertaken there at the close of the Spanish 
war, and lack of money and a romantic tem 
perament led him to abandon his studies for 
the promise of a more adventurous life under 
tropic skies, a step he afterward regretted. 
The colonization project fell through and his 
fellow colonists returned to the States, but he 
had fallen in love with opalescent surf and 
the rustle of warm trade winds in the palms, 
and so, in the spirit of the lotos-eaters and 



with about the same business prospects, he 

While working on a Camaguey plantation 
a year later he had the misfortune to be pres 
ent at a dispute between his employer and 
two native neighbors over a boundary fence 
in the jungle. In the course of the argument 
one of the natives was shot and Clark, with 
the usual fate of innocent bystanders, shortly 
found himself in irons and on the way to the 
carcel. During the two weeks which elapsed 
before the arrival of the cash for his bail, he 
spent his time in a cell with seventeen Span 
ish negroes and a dog-eared copy of the 
Rubaiyat handed in by an American friend on 
the outside. 

For six months thereafter he divided his 
attention between plantation work, paludic 
fever, and a practical course in Spanish legal 
procedure, at the end of which time he was 
tried and acquitted, and then turned his face 
toward home in much the same mental and 
material condition as the prodigal son of old. 

The summer of his return was spent very 
much to his taste, with a surveying party in 



the Bad Lands of South Dakota. That fall he 
took up an agency for a correspondence school 
but indifference to the charms of the business 
game and a constitutional aversion to dunning 
anybody militated against his success and he 
resigned in a few months to accept the city 
editorship of a small daily paper in Lead, 
South Dakota. This pleased him better, but 
he became too deeply interested in it and 
overwork, together with the after effect of 
tropical fever, led to a sentence of exile from 
his beloved Black Hills for at least two years, 
in obedience to which he journeyed south to 

In the cow country near the Mexican bor 
der, Badger Clark stumbled unexpectedly in 
to paradise. He was given charge of a small 
ranch and the responsibility for a bunch of 
cattle just large enough to amuse him but too 
small to demand a full day s work once a 
month. The sky was persistently blue, the 
sunlight was richly golden, the folds of the 
barren mountains and the wide reaches of the 
range were full of many lovely colors, and 
his nearest neighbor was eight miles away. 



The cowmen who dropped in for a meal 
now and then in the course of their intermin 
able riding appeared to have ridden directly 
out of books of adventure, with old young 
faces full of sun wrinkles, careless mouths 
full of bad grammar, strange oaths and 
stranger yarns, and hearts for the most part as 
open and shadowless as the country they daily 

In the evenings as Clark placed his boot 
heels on the porch railing, smote the strings 
of his guitar, and broke the tense silence of the 
warm, dry twilight with song, he often won 
dered, as his eyes rested dreamily on the 
spikey yuccas that stood out sharp and black 
against the clear lemon color of the sunset 
west, why hermit life in the desert was tradi 
tionally a sad, penitential affair. 

In a letter to his mother a month or two 
after settling in Arizona, he found prose too 
weak to express his utter content and perpe 
trated his first verses. She, with natural pride, 
sent the verses to a magazine, the old Pacific 
Monthly, and a week or two later the desert 
dweller was astonished beyond measure to 



receive his first editorial check. The discov 
ery that certain people in the world were 
willing to pay money for such rhymes as he 
could write bent the whole course of his sub 
sequent life, for good or evil, and the occa 
sional lyric impulse hardened into a habit 
which has consumed much of his time and 
most of his serious thought since that date. 
The verses written to his mother were Ridiri , 
the first poem in his first book, Sun and Saddle 
Leather, and the greater part of the poems in 
both Sun and Saddle Leather and Grass 
Grown Trails were written in Arizona. 

He remained in the border country for four 
years and finally said good-bye to the desert 
with regret. He appears to have left some 
thing behind to keep his memory green, how 
ever, for seven years after his departure his 
High Chin Bob was discovered to be a popu 
lar song among the cowboys in a certain sec 
tion of the Southwest, and was printed in 
Poetry as a true Western folksong of unknown 

As Badger Clark says: "Regarding the 
High Chin Bob business, it is so far back and, 



with my usual carelessness, I have neglected 
to preserve any documentary evidence bear 
ing on it, that I fear I can t give you much of 
value. The thing began once when I was 
with an outfit of ten men driving seven hun 
dred cattle to the shipping point after the 
roundup, acting as cook because the regular 
incumbent had gone to town and looked upon 
the wine when it is red. One night when I 
was washing my pots and kettles I heard the 
boys around the fire discussing a cow-puncher 
over in the mountains who, the week before, 
had roped a bobcat and drug it to death. 
The boys spent some time swapping expert 
opinions on the incident, so it stuck in my 
mind, incubated, and eventually hatched out 
The Glory Trail. 

"Nobody said anything about the poem, 
good or bad, as I remember, and I reckoned 
it had fallen rather flat until, some years later, 
about three years ago, I think, a distant friend 
sent me a copy of Poetry which featured High 
Chin Bob. I found a real native folksong 
which the cowboys were accustomed to carol 
in their long rides over the romantic wilder- 



nesses of the Southwest, a song like Melchi- 
zedek, without father or mother, which prob 
ably had naturally just growed in the rocky 
soil where it now flourished. What was my 
amazement, in examining this literary curi 
osity, to find that it was my Glory Trail, with 
slight alterations, such as the omission of one 
line in the refrain, such rubbings down and 
chippings off as might happen to it in passing 
from mouth to mouth. I own that the folk 
song version is in some points more striking, 
and easy than my more labored original, and 
I believe it is better known. 

"Frothingham, you remember, took it for 
his Songs of Men and I recently noticed that 
Rupert Hughes mentions High Chin Bob in 
a familiarly friendly way in his novel, Beauty, 
and no doubt many a country newspaper in 
the West has run the lines. When I was in 
California a year or so ago I became acquaint 
ed with H. H. Knibbs and I noticed that he 
introduced me to everybody as the author of 
High Chin Bob. So, under another name 
than the one its dad bestowed at the christen- 



ing, this poem has become probably the most 
widely known son of its father. 

"By the way, I have never heard High Chin 
Bob sung, and have some curiosity as to its 
homemade musical setting. If I ever meet 
some one who knows it, I ll make him warble 
it, if I have to use a sixshooter." 

At present Badger Clark lives in Hot 
Springs, South Dakota. Recently he has 
learned that it is easier to talk to five hundred 
people than to five, and that sometimes his fel 
low citizens would rather hear him read his 
own verse than read it themselves, which fur 
nishes a new source of pleasure in a very quiet 
life. He is thirty-eight years old and unmar 
ried. He is a church member of irreproach 
able daily walk and conversation but some 
what uncertain orthodoxy. He never wears 
a starched collar and generally appears in a 
coat only when meteorological conditions or 
an occasion of ceremony make it necessary. 
He is six feet tall. 

One who knows him intimately thus writes 
of the author: "Badger Clark is loved in his 
own home town but is not worshipped as a 



celebrity, for which fact, doubtless, no one is 
more thankful than he himself. It leaves him 
free to visit the public library, take part in 
local election squabbles, and be rated as a 
good citizen. He can sing in the church choir 
or join in the Christmas pageant as one of the 
grown-up children of the congregation. He 
is free to use his alert sense of humor, and in 
turn is glad to be the target for the wit of 
others. He can write verse on local subjects 
and they will be printed in the weekly news 
paper and read without his fellow townsmen 
thinking the author odd." 

The first edition of Sun and Saddle Leather 
appeared in 1915. It was a modest little vol 
ume of fifty-six pages bound in antique 
boards; but to prove how easily copies were 
disposed of, the publisher wrote this letter to 
the author: 

"Do you happen to have a spare copy of 
the first edition of Sun and Saddle Leather? 
Some evil-minded person has lifted the last 
copy I had. 

"I would be tickled to death to send you a 



copy of the last edition to replace, if you are 
willing to make a swap." 

But even the author did not have one, for 
this was his answer : 

"I m sorry, but my last copy of the first edi 
tion of Sun and Saddle Leather disappeared 
long ago. All I have in that line is one copy 
of the third edition that was so thumbed and 
soiled from using it to read out of in public 
that it would tempt nobody to steal it. 

"I suppose that I should have preserved at 
least one copy of the first edition for its his 
toric interest, but, like Henry Ford, I am in 
clined to think that history is mostly bunk/ 
at least any sentimental tenderness over one s 
personal history. So sad, so fresh, the days 
that are no more/ Beautiful, but bunk, bunk, 
bunk. Let s rather grow tearfully enthusias 
tic over the fortieth edition." 

In 1917 the second edition appeared. It 
was illustrated by L. A. Huffman, whose 
pictures have had their place in every sub 
sequent edition. Back in 1878 Mr. Huffman 
began to take photographs with crude cam 
eras which he made himself. These same 



photographs were the first of the now famous 
Huffman pictures comprising something like 
six thousand historic subjects, beginning with 
the Indians and buffaloes round about Fort 
Keogh on the Yellowstone, where he was post 
photographer in General Miles s army. Mr. 
Huffman knows his West thoroughly and his 
pictures help others to know it. 

Having his poems run into a second edi 
tion did not make Badger Clark believe that 
he was straight on the road to wealth or fame 
for this was how he inscribed a copy: 

When my Pegasus is lopin , 

Ory-eyed and on the bust, 
And the cares of common livin 

Sprawl behind me in the dust, 
And the breath of inspiration 

Comes a driftin down the wind, 
Then a finer life than writin* 

Would be mighty hard to find. 

Just a-writin , a-writin , 

Nothin I like half so well 
As a-slingin ink and English 

If the stuff will only sell 

When I m writin . 



The same year appeared the first edition of 
Grass Grown Trails. William S. Hart wrote : 
"May these trails never be wholly obliterated! 
I love the West and them, and thoroughly 
appreciate anything which so beautifully il 
lustrates and typifies it as this last volume of 
Badger Clark s does." 

In 1919 a third edition of Sun and Saddle 
Leather was brought out containing addi 
tional poems. 

In 1920 appeared a collected edition of 
Badger Clark s work, containing all the poems 
in Sun and Saddle Leather, all those in Grass 
Grown Trails and nine new poems hitherto 
unpublished in book form. 

To prove that some authors are grateful, 
this is what Badger Clark wrote his publisher 
when he had seen the book : 

"I am now ready to die. Hitherto I have 
felt that I have never done anything right 
fully to prove up on my world-without-end 
six-by-three homestead, but now I have 
earned that spot of deep repose. And now 
I am ready for the Sure enwinding arms of 
cool-enfolding death. I have achieved my 



achievement. I have done done it, as the Tex- 
anos used to say. I am the parent of a child, 
a real child, a grown child no mewling, 
thirty-page infant in pasteboard swaddling 
clothes, no gas-pipe-legged adolescent look 
ing out at the world with scared eyes that 
mutely beg: Please like me ; but a splendid, 
rounded-out, mature specimen of progeny, 
quietly elegant in garb, and bearing itself 
with calm confidence, conscious of the friend 
ship and commendation of a variety of people, 
real people, distinguished people, people who 
(be it uttered in confidence) ought to know 
better. And I am its dad : bone of my bone, 
flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart, it stands 
and nobody can even pick out its more ami 
able traits and say: That came from the 
mother s side. Come, lovely and soothing 
death/ you bleak, bloodless, black humbug, 
you; come whenever you re ready. I ve 
beaten you! You can t kill me! 

"Where was I? Pardon me! B ar with 
me, y r honor, as I once heard a cow country 
lawyer say when he was trying to plead a case 
under a burden of emotion and mixed drinks. 



But, Badger, it has taken me the best part of 
fifteen years to make that book and now, as 
I look at it, I sing to myself: By gosh! it was 
worth it! I have stood wistfully by and 
watched the companions of my youth go into 
real estate and insurance and the ministry and 
medicine and standing in the world, wonder 
ing if I wasn t after all, a variegated damfool 
for trying to scale the perpendicular side 
which Parnassus presents to the half-educated. 
But to-night I envy no man on earth not 
Rockefeller, not Doug. Fairbanks, not even 
Gamaliel Harding as he leads admiring mil 
lions toward the promised land of Normalcy. 
Blessed is that man who has found his work. 
Let him ask no other blessedness. Why Car- 
lyle, you dear, crusty old son-of-a-gun, you re 
dead right, and when I meet you beyond the 
last divide I ll humble myself before you for 
having thought, sometimes, that those words 
of yours were mere inspirational bunk. 

"Well to return to coherency, if I can, the 
new Siamese-twins edition of Sun and Saddle 
Leather and Grass Grown Trails is really a 
source of some slight satisfaction to me. I 



have before me collections of Wilfred Wilson 
Gibson, and John Masefield and they, though 
thicker, don t look a bit better mechanically. 
You ve done me proud. Thank you." 

The present sixth edition, we hope, will 
speak for itself. 

Dr. W. T. Hornaday said of the book: 
"Some of the Sun and Saddle Leather poems 
have taken hold of me with a grip that only 
imbecility ever can shake loose. I have seen 
many poems and verses come out of the wild 
portions of the West; but these are the best. 
They are real poetry 1" 

Sun and Saddle Leather and Grass Grown 
Trails are Western songs, simple and ringing 
and yet with an ample vision that makes them 
unique among poems written in a local ver 
nacular. The spirit of them is eternal, the 
spirit of youth in the open, and their back 
ground is "God s Reserves," the vast reach 
of Western mesa and plain that will always 
remain free "the way that it was when the 
world was new." 

Every poem carries a breath of plains, 
wind-flavored with a tang of camp smoke; 



and, varied as they are in tune and tone, they 
do not contain a single note that is labored 
or unnatural. They are of native Western 
stock, as indigenous to the soil as the agile cow 
ponies whose hoofs evidently beat the time 
for their swinging measures; and it is this 
quality, as well as their appealing music, that 
has already given them such wide popularity, 
East and West. 

That they were born in the saddle and 
written for love rather than for publication is 
a conviction that the reader of them can hard 
ly escape. From the impish merriment of 
From Town to the deep but fearless piety of 
The Cowboy s Prayer, these songs ring true; 
and are as healthy as the big, bright country 
whence they came. 

In prefaces to earlier editions I made free 
to quote from the poems and to attempt to 
point out their peculiar excellencies. With 
modesty unusual in authors, Badger Clark 
wrote : 

"By the way, Mr. Badger loaded most of 
the odium for the biographical preface to 
Sun and Saddle Leather onto you at the time 



it first appeared, and I suppose you are re 
sponsible for the extended version of the late 
edition. It is said that modern women are 
deficient in spinning, weaving and other arts 
familiar to their great grandmothers, but 
when it comes to the proverbially difficult 
stunt of fabricating a silk purse out of a sow s 
ear, you are THERE. Thank you." 

R. H. 






There is some that like the city. 


When my trail stretches out to the edge of 
the sky. 


Wonder why I feel so restless. 

We re the children of the open and we hate 
the haunts o men. 


Oh Lordj I ve never lived where churches 


The wind is blowin cold down the mountain 
tips of snow. 


Spanish is the lovin tongue. 

Wrangle up your mouth-harps, drag your 
banjo out. 




When my rope takes hold on a two-year-old. 

At a roundup on the Gily. 


Lay on the iron! the tie holds fast. 


Desert blue and silver in the still moonshine. 


My love was swift and slender. 

Our lives are hid; our trails are strange. 

Way high up the Mogollons. 

You re salty and greasy and smoky as sin. 

I ride alone and hate the boys I meet. 

One time f way back where the year marks 


There s an old pard of mine that sits by his 


I rode across a valley range. 




Men of the older, gentler soil. 

My fathers sleep on the sunrise plains. 

My tired hawse nickers for his own home bars. 

Up from the prairie and through the pines. 


Trailing the last gleam after. 

/ went and worked in a drippin mine. 

The trail is long to the bison herd. 

Twos a hole called Red s Saloon. 

He never made parade of tooth or claw. 

Oh, days whoop by with swingin 1 lope. 

Out from the ranch on a Saturday night. 

Lazy little hawse, it s noon. 


/ laughed when the dawn was a-peep in . 


Stop! there s the wild bunch to right of the 

HALF-BREED . - - * I32 
Fathers with eyes of ancient ire. 

To HE* ..- I34 

Cut loose a hundred rivers. 


As I was ridin all alone. 

THE LONG WAY . . is8 

Two miles of ridin from the school without a 
bit of trouble. 


Forty miles from Taggart s store. 



You ve watched the ground-hog s shadow ana 
the shiftin weather signs. 

. 148 


When the dreamers of old Coronado. 

THE BAD LANDS . . * *,., 
No fresh green things in the Bad Lands bide. 


Heart of me, are you hearing? 

We re the prairie pilgrim crew. 




Red is the arch of the nightmare sky. 

By the rim rocks on the hill. 

All day across the sagebrush fiat. 

There s a song in the canyon below me. 

God of the open, though I am so simple. 

There was a sunny, savage land. 

You and I settled this section together. 

Deeply the buffalo trod it. 

/ reared your fathers long ago. 


Westward from the greener places. 

Old camp-mate, black and rough to see. 


All mornin in the mesa s glare. 




Once again the regiments marching down the 


Kissed me from the saddle and I still can feel 
it burning. 


The daybreak comes so pure and still. 

Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch to war. 

Do you mind that old fight in The Rattles? 

The shadow crawls up canyon walls; the rim 
rocks flush to pink. 



Badger Clark Frontispiece 


When my feet is in the stirrups 

And my hawse is on the bust 4 

There s a time to be slow and a timt to be quick . 66 

We have gathered fightin pointers from the famous 

bronco steed 9 

The taut ropes sing like a banjo string 

And the latigoes creak and strain . . . . Il6 

I wait to hear him ridin up behind 142 

There s land where yet no ditchers dig 

Nor cranks experiment; 
It s only lovely, free and big 

And isn t worth a cent 1 68 

When the last free trail is a prim, fenced lane 
And our graves grow weeds through forgetful 

Richer and statelier then you ll reign, 

Mother of men whom the world will praise. 

And your sons will love you and sigh for you, 

Labor and battle and die for you, 

But never the fondest will understand 
The way we have loved you, young, young land 194 



There is some that like the city 

Grass that s curried smooth and green, 
Theaytres and stranglin collars, 

Wagons run by gasoline 
But for me it s hawse and saddle 

Every day without a change, 
And a desert sun a-blazin 
On a hundred miles of range. 
Just a-ridin , a-ridin 

Desert ripplin in the sun, 
Mountains blue along the skyline 
/ don t envy anyone 

When I m rldln . 
When my feet is in the stirrups 
And my hawse is on the bust, 
With his hoofs a-flashin lightnin 

From a cloud of golden dust, 
And the bawlin of the cattle 

Is a-comin down the wind 
Then a finer life than ridin 
Would be mighty hard to find. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Just a-ridin , a-ridin 

Splittin long cracks through the 


Stir r in up a baby cyclone, 
Rippin up the prickly pear 
As I m ridin. 

I don t need no art exhibits 

When the sunset does her best, 
Paintin everlastin glory 

On the mountains to the west 
And your opery looks foolish 

When the night-bird starts his tune 
And the desert s silver mounted 

By the touches of the moon. 

Just a-ridin f a-ridin f f 

Who kin envy kings and czars 
When the coyotes down the valley 

Are a-singiri to the stars, 
If he s ridin ? 

When my earthly trail is ended 

And my final bacon curled 
And the last great roundup s finished 

At the Home Ranch of the world 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

I don t want no harps nor haloes, 
Robes nor other dressed up things 

Let me ride the starry ranges 
On a pinto hawse with wings 1 

Just a-ridin , a-ridin 

Nothin I d like half so well 

As a-roundin up the sinners 

That have wandered out of Hell, 
And a-ridin . 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


When my trail stretches out to the edge of 

the sky 

Through the desert so empty and bright, 
When I m watchin the miles as they go craw- 

lin by 

And a-hopin I ll get there by night, 
Then my hawse never speaks through the long 

sunny day, 

But my saddle he sings in his creaky old 

"Easy easy easy 
For a temperit pace ain t a crime. 
Let your mount hit it steady, but give him 

his ease f 
For the sun hammers hard and there s 

never a breeze. 
We kin get there in plenty of time." 

When I m after some critter that s hit the 

high lope, 
And a-spurrin my hawse till he flies, 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

When I m watchin the chances for throwin 

my rope 

And a-winkin r the sweat from my eyes, 
Then the leathers they squeal with the lunge 

and the swing 

And I work to the lievelier tune that they 

"Reach im! reach im! reach im! 
If you lather your hawse to the heel! 
There s a time to be slow and a time to be 

Never mind if it s rough and the bushes are 

Pull your hat down and fling in the 

When I ve rustled all day till I m achin for 


And I m ordered a night-guard to ride, 
With the tired little moon hangin low in the 


And my sleepiness fightin my pride, 
Then I nod and I blink at the dark herd be 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

And the saddle he sings as my hawse paces 

"Sleepy sleepy sleepy 
We was ordered a close watch to keep, 
But I ll sing you a song in a drowsy old key; 
All the world is a-snoozin so why shouldn t 

Go to sleep f pardner mine, go to sleep! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Wonder why I feel so restless ; 

Moon is shinin still and bright, 
Cattle all is restin easy, 

But I just kain t sleep tonight. 
Ain t no cactus in my blankets, 

Don t know why they feel so hard 
Less it s Warblin Jim a-singin 

"Annie Laurie" out on guard. 

"Annie Laurie" wish he d quit itl 

Couldn t sleep now if I tried. 
Makes the night seem big and lonesome, 

And my throat feels sore inside. 
How my Annie used to sing itl 

And it sounded good and gay 
Nights I drove her home from dances 

When the east was turnin gray. 

Yes, "her brow was like the snowdrift" 
And her eyes like quiet streams, 

"And her face" I still kin see it 
Much too frequent in my dreams; 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

And her hand was soft and trembly 
That night underneath the tree, 

When I couldn t help but tell her 
She was "all the world to me." 

But her folks said I was "shif less," 

"Wild," "unsettled," they was right, 
For I leaned to punchin cattle 

And I m at it still tonight. 
And she married young Doc Wilkins 

Oh my Lord! but that was hard! 
Wish that fool would quit his singin 

"Annie Laurie" out on guard! 

Oh, I just kaint stand it thinkin 

Of the things that happened then. 
Good old times, and all apast me! 

Never seem to come again 
My turn? Sure. I ll come a-runnin . 

Warm me up some coffee, pard 
But I ll stop that Jim from singin 

"Annie Laurie" out on guard. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


We re the children of the open and we hate 

the haunts o men, 

But we had to come to town to get the mail. 
And we re ridin home at daybreak cause 

the air is cooler then 
All cept one of us that stopped behind in 

Shorty s nose won t bear paradin , Bill s off 

eye is darkly fadin , 

All our toilets show a touch of disarray, 
For we found that city life is a constant round 

of strife 

And we ain t the breed for shyin from a 

Chant your warwhoop, pardners dear f while 

the east turns pale with fear 
And the chaparral is tremblin all aroun 
For we re wicked to the marrer; we re a mid 
night dream of terror 

When we re ridin up the rocky trail from 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

We acquired our hasty temper from our 

friend, the centipede. 
From the rattlesnake we learnt to guard our 

We have gathered fightin pointers from the 

famous bronco steed 
And the bobcat teached us reppertee that 

So when some high-collared herrin jeered the 

garb that I was wearin 
Twasn t long till we had got where talkin 

And he et his illbred chat, with a sauce of 

derby hat, 
While my merry pardners entertained his 

Sing f er out, my buckeroos! Let the desert 

hear the news. 
Tell the stars the way we rubbed the 

haughty down. 
W e re the fiercest wolves a-prowlin and it s 

just our night for howl in 
When we re ridin up the rocky trail from 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Since the days that Lot and Abram split the 

Jordan range in halves, 
Just to fix it so their punchers wouldn t 

Since old Jacob skinned his dad-in-law for 

six years crop of calves 
And then hit the trail for Canaan in the 

There has been a taste for battle mong the 

men that follow cattle 
And a love of doin things that s wild and 

And the warmth of Laban s words when he 

missed his speckled herds 
Still is useful in the language of the range. 

Sing er out, my bold coyotes! leather fists and 

leather throats, 
For we wear the brand of Ishm el like a 


We re the sons o f desolation, we re the out 
laws of creation 

Ee yowl a-ridin up the rocky trail from 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


(Written for Mother) 

Oh Lord, I ve never lived where churches 


I love creation better as it stood 
That day You finished it so long ago 

And looked upon Your work and called it 


I know that others find You in the light 
That s sifted down through tinted window 


And yet I seem to feel You near tonight 
In this dim, quiet starlight on the plains. 

I thank You, Lord, that I am placed so well, 

That You have made my freedom so com 
That I m no slave of whistle, clock or bell, 

Nor weak-eyed prisoner of wall and street. 
Just let me live my life as I ve begun 

And give me work that s open to the sky; 
Make me a pardner of the wind and sun, 

And I won t ask a life that s soft or high. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Let me be easy on the man that s down; 

Let me be square and generous with all. 
I m careless sometimes, Lord, when Fm in 

But never let em say I m mean or small! 
Make me as big and open as the plains, 

As honest as the hawse between my knees, 
Clean as the wind that blows behind the rains, 

Free as the hawk that circles down the 

Forgive me, Lord, if sometimes I forget. 

You know about the reasons that are hid. 
You understand the things that gall and fret; 

You know me better than my mother did. 
Just keep an eye on all that s done and said 

And right me, sometimes, when I turn 

And guide me on the long, dim trail ahead 

That stretches upward toward the Great 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


The wind is blowin cold down the mountain 

tips of snow 
And cross the ranges layin brown and 

dead ; 

It s cryin through the valley trees that wear 
the mistletoe [head. 

And mournin with the gray clouds over- 
Yet it s sweet with the beat of my little 
hawse s feet [blue, 

And I whistle like the air was warm and 
For I m ridin up the Christmas trail to you, 

Old folks, 
I m a-ridin up the Christmas trail to you. 

Oh, mebbe it was good when the whinny of 

the Spring 

Had wheedled me to hoppin of the bars, 
And livin in the shadow of a sailin buz 
zard s wing 

And sleepin underneath a roof of stars. 
But the bright campfire light only dances for 
a night, 

5 2 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

While the home-fire burns forever clear 

and true, 
So round the year I circle back to you, 

Old folks, 
Round the rovin year I circle back to you. 

Oh, mebbe it was good when the reckless 

Summer sun 

Had shot a charge of fire through my veins, 
And I milled around the whiskey and the 

fightin and the fun 
Mong the other mav ricks drifted from the 

Ay, the pot bubbled hot, while you reckoned 

I d forgot, 
And the devil smacked the young blood in 

his stew, 
Yet I m lovin every mile that s nearer you, 

Good folks, 
Lovin every blessed mile that s nearer you. 

Oh, mebbe it was good at the roundup in the 


When the clouds of bawlin dust before us 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

And the pride of rope and saddle was 

a-drivin of us all 
To a stretch of nerve and muscle, man and 

But the pride sort of died when the man got 

weary eyed ; 

Twas a sleepy boy that rode the night- 
guard through, 
And he dreamed himself along a trail to you, 

Old folks, 

Dreamed himself along a happy trail to 

The coyote s Winter howl cuts the dusk be 
hind the hill, 

But the ranch s shinin window I kin see, 
And though I don t deserve it and, I reckon, 

never will, 
There ll be room beside the fire kep for 

Skimp my plate cause I m late. Let me hit 

the old kid gait, 

For tonight I m stumblin tired of the new 
And I m ridin up the Christmas trail to you, 

Old folks, 
I m a-ridin up the Christmas trail to you. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


Spanish is the lovin tongue, 
Soft as music, light as spray. 

Twas a girl I learnt it from, 
Livin down Sonora way. 

I don t look much like a lover, 

Yet I say her love words over 

Often when I m all alone 
"Mi amor, mi corazon." 

Nights when she knew where I d ride 

She would listen for my spurs, 
Fling the big door open wide, 

Raise them laughin eyes of her 
And my heart would nigh stop beatin 
When I heard her tender greeting , 

Whispered soft for me alone 

"Mi amor! mi corazon!" 

Moonlight in the patio, 

Old Senora noddin near, 
Me and Juana talkin low 

So the Madre couldn t hear- 
How those hours would go a-flyin I 
And too soon I d hear her sighin 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

In her little sorry tone 
"Adios, ml corazonf" 

But one time I had to fly 

For a foolish gamblin 7 fight, 
And we said a swift goodbye 

In that black, unlucky night. 
When I d loosed her arms from clingin 
With her words the hoofs kep ringin 

As I galloped north alone 

"Adios, mi corazon!" 

Never seen her since that night, 

I kain t cross the Line, you know. 
She was Mex and I was white; 

Like as not it s better so. 
Yet IVe always sort of missed her 
Since that last wild night I kissed her, 

Left her heart and lost my own 

"Adios, mi corazon!" 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


Wrangle up your mouth-harps, drag your 

banjo out, 
Tune your old guitarra till she twangs right 

For the snow is on the mountains and the 

wind is on the plain, 
But we ll cut the chimney s moanin with a 

livelier refrain. 

Shinin dobe fireplace, shadows on the 

(See old Shorty s friv lous toes a-twitchin 

at the call:) 
It s the best grand high that there is within 

the law 
When seven jolly punchers tackle "Turkey 

in the Straw. 

Freezy was the day s ride, lengthy was the 

Ev ry steer was haughty with a high arched 



Sun and Saddle Leather 

But we held em and we shoved em, for our 
longin hearts were tried 

By a yearnin for tobacker and our dear fire 

Swing er into stop-time, don t you let er 

(You re about as tuneful as a coyote with 
the croup!) 

Ay, the cold wind bit when we drifted 
down the draw, 

But we drifted on to comfort and to "Tur 
key in the Straw." 

Snarlin when the rain whipped, cussin at the 


Ev ry mile of twenty was a long discord, 
But the night is brimmin music and its glory 

is complete 
When the eye is razzle-dazzled by the flip o 

Shorty s feet! 

Snappy for the dance, now, till she up and 

(Don t he beat the devil s wife for jiggin 

in is boots?) 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

Shorty got throwed high and we laughed 

till he was raw, 
But tonight he s done forgot it prancin 

"Turkey in the Straw/ 

Rainy dark or firelight, bacon rind or pie, 
Livin is a luxury that don t come high; 
Oh, be happy and onruly while our years and 

luck allow, 
For we all must die or marry less than forty 

years from nowl 

Lively on the last turn! lope er to the 

(Reddy s soul is willin but he s gettin 

short o breath.) 
Ay, the storm wind sings and old trouble 

sucks his paw 
When we have an hour of firelight set to 

"Turkey in the Straw." 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


When my rope takes hold on a two-year-old, 

By the foot or the neck or the horn, 
He kin plunge and fight till his eyes go white 

But I ll throw him as sure as you re born. 
Though the taut ropes sing like a banjo string 

And the latigoes creak and strain, 
Yet I got no fear of an outlaw steer 

And I ll tumble him on the plain. 

For a man is a man, but a steer is a beast, 

And the man is the boss of the herd, 
And each of the bunch, from the biggest 

to least, 

Must come down when he says the 

When my leg swings cross on an outlaw 

And my spurs clinch into his hide, 
He kin r ar and pitch over hill and ditch, 

But wherever he goes I ll ride. 
Let im spin and flop like a crazy top 

Or flit like a wind-whipped smoke, 
But he ll know the feel of my rowelled heel 

Till he s happy to own he s broke. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

For a man is a man and a hawse is a brute, 
And the hawse may be prince of his 

But he ll bow to the bit and the steel-shod 

And own that his boss is the man. 

When the devil at rest underneath my vest 

Gets up and begins to paw 
And my hot tongue strains at its bridle reins, 

Then I tackle the real outlaw. 
When I get plumb riled and my sense goes 

And my temper is fractious growed, 
If he ll hump his neck just a triflin speck, 

Then it s dollars to dimes I m throwed. 

For a man is a man, but he s partly a 


lie kin brag till he makes you deaf , 
But the one lone brute, from the west to the 

That he hain t quite break is himse f. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


At a roundup on the Gily, 

One sweet mornin long ago, 
Ten of us was throwed right freely 

By a hawse from Idaho. 
And we thought he d go a-beggin 

For a man to break his pride 
Till, a-hitchin up one leggin , 

Boastful Bill cut loose and cried 

"I m a on ry proposition for to hurt; 
I fulfill my earthly mission with a 


I kin ride the highest liver 
Tween the Gulf and Powder River, 
And Til break this thing as easy as I d 

So Bill climbed the Northern Fury 

And they mangled up the air 
Till a native of Missouri 

Would have owned his brag was fair. 
Though the plunges kep him reelin 

And the wind it flapped his shirt, 
Loud above the hawse s squealin 

We could hear our friend assert 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

"I m the one to take such rakin s as a 

Some one hand me up the makin s of 

a smoke! 
If you think my fame needs 

bright nin 

W y I ll rope a streak of lightnin 
And I ll cinch im up and spur im till 
he s broke." 

Then one caper of repulsion 

Broke that hawse s back in two. 
Cinches snapped in the convulsion; 

Skyward man and saddle flew. 
Up he mounted, never laggin , 

While we watched him through our 

And his last thin bit of braggin 

Came a-droppin to our ears. 

"If you d ever watched my habits very 

You would know I ve broke such rab 
bits by the gross. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

I have kep my talent hidin ; 
I m too good for earthly ridin 
And I m off to bust the lightnin s, 

Years have gone since that ascension. 

Boastful Bill ain t never lit, 
So we reckon that he s wrenchin 

Some celestial outlaw s bit. 
When the night rain beats our slickers 

And the wind is swift and stout 
And the lightnin flares and flickers, 

We kin sometimes hear him shout 

"I m a bronco-twist wonder on the 


I m the ridin son-oj -thunder of the sky. 
Hi! you earthlin s f shut your win 

While we re rip pin clouds to flind 

If this blue-eyed darlin kicks at you, 
you die!" 

Stardust on his chaps and saddle, 
Scornful still of jar and jolt, 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

He ll come back some day, astraddle 

Of a bald-faced thunderbolt. 
And the thin-skinned generation 

Of that dim and distant day 
Sure will stare with admiration 

When they hear old Boastful say 

"I was first, as old rawhiders all con 
Now I m last of all rough riders , and 

the best. 

Huh, you soft and dainty floaters, 
With your aeroplanes and motors 
Huh! are you the great grandchildren 
of the West!" 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


Lay on the iron! the tie holds fast 

And my wild record closes. 
This maverick is down at last 

Just roped and tied with roses. 
And one small girl s to blame for it, 
Yet I don t fight with shame for it 
Lay on the iron; I m game for it, 

Just roped and tied with roses. 

I loped among the wildest band 

Of saddle-hatin winners 
Gay colts that never felt a brand 

And scarred old outlaw sinners. 
The wind was rein and guide to us ; 
The world was pasture wide to us 
And our wild name was pride to us 

High headed bronco sinners! 

So, loose and light we raced and fought 

And every range we tasted, 
But now, since I m corralled and caught, 

I know them days were wasted. 


I [uffman*Stcvcnson. 

T here s a time to be J/O-TV and a time to be quick." 

See page 43 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

From now, the all-day gait for me, 
The trail that s hard but straight for me, 
For down that trail, who ll wait for me! 
Ay! them old days were wasted! 

But though I m broke, I ll never be 

A saddle-marked old groaner, 
For never worthless bronc like me 

Got such a gentle owner. 
There could be colt days glad as mine 
Or outlaw runs as mad as mine 
Or rope-flung falls as bad as mine, 
But never such an owner. 

Lay on the iron, and lay it red! 

I ll take it kind and clever. 
Who wouldn t hold a prouder head 

To wear that mark forever? 
I ll never break and stray from her; 
I d starve and die away from her. 
Lay on the iron it s play from her 

And brand me hers forever! 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


Desert blue and silver in the still moonshine, 
Coyote yappin lazy on the hill, 

Sleepy winks of lightnin down the far sky 

Time for millin cattle to be still. 

So o f now, the lightnings far away, 
The coyote s nothin skeery; 
He s sin gin to his dearie 

Hee ya, tammalalleday! 

Settle down, you cattle, till the mornin . 

Nothin out the hazy range that you folks 


Nothin we kin see to take your eye. 
Yet we got to watch you or you d all stam 
Plungin down some royo bank to die. 

So o, now, for still the shadows stay; 

The moon is slow and steady; 

The sun comes when he s ready. 
Hee ya, tammalalleday! 

No use runnin out to meet the mornin . 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Cows and men are foolish when the light 

grows dim, 

Dreamin of a land too far to see. 
There, you dream, is wavin grass and streams 

that brim 
And it often seems the same to me. 

So o, now, for dreams they never pay. 
The dust it keeps us blinking 
We re seven miles from drinkin. 

Hee ya, tammalalleday! 

But we got to stand it till the mornin . 

Mostly it s a moonlight world our trail winds 

Kain t see much beyond our saddle horns. 
Always far away is misty silver-blue; 

Always underfoot it s rocks and thorns. 

So o, now. It must be this away 
The lonesome owl a-callin f 
The mournful coyote squallin f . 

Hee ya, tammalalleday! 

Mocking-birds don t sing until the 

mornin . 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

Always seem Vayoff dreams of silver-blue, 
Always f eelin thorns that stab and sting. 

Yet stampedin never made a dream come 

So I ride around myself and sing, 

So o, now, a man has got to stay, 
A-likin or a-hatin \ 
But ivorkin on and ivaitin . 

Hee ya, tamm dialled ay! 

All of us are ivaitin for the mornin . 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


My love was swift and slender 

As an antelope at play, 
And her eyes were gray and tender 

As the east at break o day, 
And I sure was shaky hearted 

And her flower face was pale 
On that silver night we parted, 

When I sang along the trail : 

Forever forever 

Oh, moon above the pine, 
Like the matin birds in Springtime, 

I will twitter while you shine. 
Rich as ore with gold a-glowin , 
Sweet as sparklin springs a-flowin f , 
Strong as redwoods ever growin, 
So will be this love o mine. 

I rode across the river 

And beyond the far divide, 
Till the echo of "forever" 

Staggered faint behind and died. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

For the long trail smiled and beckoned 
And the free wind blowed so sweet, 

That life s gayest tune, I reckoned, 
Was my hawse s ringin feet. 

Forever forever 

Oh, stars, look down and sigh, 
For a poison spring will sparkle 

And the trustin drinker die. 
And a rovin bird will twitter 
And a worthless rock will glitter 
And a maiden s love is bitter 

When the man s is proved a lie. 

Last the rover s circle guidin 

Brought me where I used to be, 
And I met her, gaily ridin 

With a smarter man than me. 
Then I raised my dusty cover 

But she didn t see nor hear, 
So I hummed the old tune over, 

Laughin in my hawse s ear : 

Forever forever 

Oh, sun, look down and smile 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

If the snowflake specks the desert 
Or the yucca blooms awhile. 

Ay! what gloom the mountain covers 

Where the driftin clouds shade hov 

Ay! the trail o parted lovers t 
Where "forever" lasts a mil el 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


Our lives are hid; our trails are strange; 

We re scattered through the West 
In canyon cool, on blistered range 

Or windy mountain crest. 
Wherever Nature drops her ears 

And bares her claws to scratch, 
From Yuma to the north frontiers, 

You ll likely find the bach , 
You will, 

The shy and sober bach ! 

Our days are sun and storm and mist, 

The same as any life, 
Except that in our trouble list 

We never count a wife. 
Each has a reason why he s lone, 

But keeps it neath his hat; 
Or, if he s got to tell some one, 

Confides it to his cat, 
He does, 

Just tells it to his cat. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

We re young or old or slow or fast, 

But all plumb versatyle. 
The mighty bach that fires the blast 

Kin serve up beans in style. 
The bach that ropes the plungin cows 

Kin mix the biscuits true 
We earn our grub by drippin brows 

And cook it by em too, 
We do, 

We cook it by em too. 

We like to breathe unbranded air, 

Be free of foot and mind, 
And go or stay, or sing or swear, 

Whichever we re inclined. 
An appetite, a conscience clear, 

A pipe that s rich and old 
Are loves that always bless and cheer 

And never cry nor scold, 
They don t. 

They never cry nor scold. 

Old Adam bached some ages back 
And smoked his pipe so free, 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

A-loafin in a palm-leaf shack 

Beneath a mango tree. 
He d best have stuck to bachin ways, 

And scripture proves the same, 
For Adam s only happy days 

Was fore the woman came, 
They was, 

All fore the woman came. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


(High-Chin Bob] 

Way high up the Mogollons, 

Among the mountain tops, 
A lion cleaned a yearlin s bones 

And licked his thankful chops, 
When on the picture who should ride, 

A-trippin down a slope, 
But High-Chin Bob, with sinful pride 

And mav rick hungry rope. 

"Oh, glory be to me" says he, 
"And fame s unfadin flowers! 

All meddlin hands are far away; 

I ride my good top-hawse today 

And I m top-rope of the Lazy J 
Hi! kitty cat, you re ours!" 

That lion licked his paw so brown 
And dreamed soft dreams of veal 

And then the circlin loop sung down 
And roped him round his meal. 

He yowled quick fury to the world 
Till all the hills yelled back; 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

The top-hawse gave a snort and whirled 
And Bob caught up the slack. 

"Oh, glory be to me" laughs he. 

"We hit the glory trail. 
No human man as I have read 
Darst loop a ragin lions head, 
Nor ever hawse could drag one dead 
Until we told the tale." 

Way high up the Mogollons 

That top-hawse done his best, 
Through whippin brush and rattlin stones,, 

From canyon-floor to crest. 
But ever when Bob turned and hoped 

A limp remains to find, 
A red-eyed lion, belly roped 

But healthy, loped behind. 

"Oh, glory be to me" grunts he. 

"This glory trail is rough, 
Yet even till the Judgment Morn 
Til keep this dally round the horn, 
For never any hero born 

Could stoop to holler: Nuff/ " 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

Three suns had rode their circle home 

Beyond the desert s rim, 
And turned their star-herds loose to roam 

The ranges high and dim; 
Yet up and down and round and cross 

Bob pounded, weak and wan, 
For pride still glued him to his hawse 

And glory drove him on. 

"Oh, glory be to me," sighs he. 

"He hain t be drug to death, 
But now I know beyond a doubt 
Them heroes I have read about 
Was only fools that stuck it out 

To end of mortal breath" 

Way high up the Mogollons 

A prospect man did swear 
That moon dreams melted down his bones 

And hoisted up his hair: 
A ribby cow-hawse thundered by, 

A Iron trailed along, 
A rider, ga nt but chin on high, 

Yelled out a crazy song. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

"Oh, glory be to me!" cries he, 

"And to my noble noose! 
Oh, stranger, tell my pards below 
I took a rampin dream in tow. 
And if I never lay him low, 
I ll never turn him loose!" 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


You re salty and greasy and smoky as sin 

But of all grub we love you the best. 
You stuck to us closer than nighest of kin 

And helped us win out in the West, 
You froze with us up on the Laramie trail; 

You sweat with us down at Tucson ; 
When Injun was painted and white man was 


You nerved us to grip our last chance by the 

And load up our Colts and hang on. 

YouVe sizzled by mountain and mesa and 


Over campfires of sagebrush and oak; 
The breezes that blow from the Platte to the 


Have carried your savory smoke. 
You re friendly to miner or puncher or priest; 

You re as good in December as May; 
You always came in when the fresh meat had 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

And the rough course of empire to westward 

was greased 
By the bacon we fried on the way. 

We ve said that you weren t fit for white men 

to eat 

And your virtues we often forget. 
We ve called you by names that I darsn t 


But we love you and swear by you yet. 
Here s to you, old bacon, fat, lean streak and 

rin , 

All the westerners join in the toast, 
From mesquite and yucca to sagebrush and 


From Canada down to the Mexican Line, 
From Omaha out to the coast 1 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


I ride alone and hate the boys I meet. 

Today, some way, their laughin 7 hurts me 

I hate the mockin -birds in the mesquite 

And yet I liked em just a week ago. 
I hate the steady sun that glares, and glares! 

The bird songs make me sore. 
I seem the only thing on earth that cares 

Cause Al ain t here no more! 

Twas just a stumblin hawse, a tangled spur 

And, when I raised him up so limp and 

One look before his eyes begun to blur 

And then the blood that wouldn t let im 

And him so strong, and yet so quick he died, 

And after year on year 
When we had always trailed it side by side, 

He went and left me here! 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

We loved each other in the way men do 

And never spoke about it, Al and me, 
But we both knowed, and knowin it so true 

Was more than any woman s kiss could be. 
We knowed and if the way was smooth or 

The weather shine or pour, 
While I had him the rest seemed good 

But he ain t here no more! 

What is there out beyond the last divide? 

Seems like that country must be cold and 

He d miss the sunny range he used to ride, 

And he d miss me, the same as I do him. 
It s no use thinkin all I d think or say 

Could never make it clear. 
Out that dim trail that only leads one way 

He s gone and left me herel 

The range is empty and the trails are blind, 

And I don t seem but half myself today. 
I wait to hear him ridin up behind 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

And feel his knee rub mine the good old 

He s dead and what that means no man kin 


Some call it "gone before." 
Where? I don t know, but God! I know 

so well 
That he ain t here no morel 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


One time, way back where the year marks 


God said : "I see I must lose my West, 
The prettiest part of the world I made, 

The place where I ve always come to rest, 
For the White Man grows till he fights for 

And he begs and prays for a chance to spread. 

"Yet I won t give all of my last retreat; 

I ll help him to fight his long trail through, 
But I ll keep some land from his field and 

The way that it was when the world was 


He ll cry for it all, for that s his way, 
And yet he may understand some day." 

And so, from the painted Bad Lands, way 
To the sun-beat home of the Pache kin, 

God stripped some places to sand and clay 
And dried up the beds where the streams 
had been. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

He marked His reserves with these plain 


And stationed His rangers to guard the lines. 
Then the White Man came, as the East 

growed old, 

And blazed his trail with the wreck of war. 
He riled the rivers to hunt for gold 

And found the stuff he was lookin for; 
Then he trampled the Injun trails to ruts 
And gnashed through the hills with railroad 


He flung out his barb-wire fences wide 
And plowed up the ground where the grass 

was high. 
He stripped off the trees from the mountain 

And ground out his ore where the streams 

run by, 

Till last came the cities, with smoke and roar, 
And the White Man was feelin at home once 


But Barrenness, Loneliness, suchlike things 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

That gall and grate on the White Man s 

Was the rangers that camped by the bitter 


And guarded the lines of God s reserves. 
So the folks all shy from the desert land, 
Cept mebbe a few that kin understand. 

There the world s the same as the day twas 

With the land as clean as the smokeless sky 
And never a noise as the years have flew, 

But the sound of the warm wind driftin by; 
And there, alone, with the man s world far, 
There s a chance to think who you really are. 

And over the reach of the desert bare, 

When the sun drops low and the day wind 

Sometimes you kin almost see Him there, 
As He sits alone on the blue-gray hills, 

A-thinkin of things that s beyond our ken 

And restin Himself from the noise of men. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


There s an old pard of mine that sits by his 

And watches the evenin skies. 
He s sat there a thousand evenin s before 

And I reckon he will till he dies. 
El pobre! * I reckon he will till he dies, 

And hear through the dim, quiet air 
Far cattle that call and the crickets that cheep 
And his woman a-singin a kid to sleep 

And the creak of her rockabye chair. 

Once we made camp where the last light 
would fail 

And the east wasn t white till we d start, 
But now he is deaf to the call of the trail 

And the song of the restless heart. 
El pobre! the song of the restless heart 

That you hear in the wind from the dawn! 
He s left it, with all the good, free-footed 

For a slow little song that a tired woman sings 

And a smoke when his dry day is gone. 

* "El pobre," Spanish, "Poor fellow." 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

I ve rode in and told him of lands that were 


Where I d drifted from glory to dread. 
He d tell me the news of his little old range 

And the cute things his kid had said! 
El pobre! the cute things his kid had said! 

And the way six-year Billy could ride! 
And the dark would creep in from the gray 

And the woman would hum, while I pitied 

my pal 
And thought of him like he had died. 

He rides in old circles and looks at old sights 

And his life is as flat as a pond. 
He loves the old skyline he watches of nights 

And he don t seem to care for beyond. 
El pobre! he don t seem to dream of beyond, 

Nor the room he could find, there, for joy. 
"Ain t you ever oneasy?" says I one day. 
But he only just smiled in a pityin way 

While he braided a quirt for his boy. 

He preaches that I orter fold up my wings 
And that even wild geese find a nest. 



Sun and Saddle Leather 

That "woman" and "wimmen" are different 


And a saddle nap isn t a rest. 
El pobre! he s more for the shade and the rest 

And he s less for the wind and the fight, 
Yet out in strange hills, when the blue shad 
ows rise 
And I m tired from the wind and the sun in 

my eyes, 
I wonder, sometimes, if he s right. 

I ve courted the wind and I ve followed her 

From the snows that the low stars have 


To the heave and the dip of the wavy old sea, 

Yet I reckon there s somethin I ve missed. 

El pobre! Yes, mebbe there s somethin I ve 


And it mebbe is more than I ve won 
Just a door that s my own, while the cool 

shadows creep, 

And a woman a-singin my kid to sleep 
When I m tired from the wind and the sun. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


I rode across a valley range 

I hadn t seen for years. 
The trail was all so spoilt and strange 

It nearly fetched the tears. 
I had to let ten fences down 

(The fussy lanes ran wrong) 
And each new line would make me frown 

And hum a mournin song. 

Oh, it s squeak/ squeak/ squeak/ 

Hear em sir et chin of the wire/ 
The nester brand is on the land; 

I reckon I ll retire, 
While progress toots her brassy horn 

And makes her motor buzz, 
I thank the Lord I wasn t born 

No later than I was. 

Twas good to live when all the sod, 

Without no fence nor fuss, 
Belonged in pardnership to God, 

The Government and us. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

With skyline bounds from east to west 

And room to go and come, 
I loved my fellow man the best 

When he was scattered some. 

Oh, it s squeak! squeak! squeak/ 

Close and closer cramps the wire. 
There s hardly play to back away 

And call a man a liar. 
Their house has locks on every door; 

Their land is in a crate. 
These ain t the plains of God no more, 

They re only real estate. 

There s land where yet no ditchers dig 

Nor cranks experiment; 
It s only lovely, free and big 

And isn t worth a cent. 
I pray that them who come to spoil 

May wait till I am dead 
Before they foul that blessed soil 

With fence and cabbage head. 

Yet it s squeak! squeak! squeak! 
Far and farther crawls the wire. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

To crowd and pinch another Inch 

Is all their heart s desire. 
The world is overstocked with men 

And some will see the day 
When each must keep his little pen, 

But I ll be jar away. 

When my old soul hunts range and rest 

Beyond the last divide, 
Just plant me in some stretch of West 

That s sunny, lone and wide. 
Let cattle rub my tombstone down 

And coyotes mourn their kin, 
Let hawses paw and tromp the moun 

But don t you fence it in ! 

Oh, it s squeak! squeak/ squeak! 

And they pen the land with wire. 
They figure fence and copper cents 

Where we laughed round the fire. 
Job cussed his birthday, night and morn, 

In his old land of Uz, 
But I m just glad I wasn t born 

no later than I was! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


Men of the older, gentler soil, 

Loving the things that their fathers 

Worn old fields of their fathers toil, 

Scarred old hills where their fathers 


Loving their land for each ancient trace, 
Like a mother dear for her wrinkled face, 
Such as they never can understand 
The way we have loved you, young, young 

Born of a free, world-wandering race, 
Little we yearned o er an oft-turned sod. 

What did we care for the fathers 7 place, 
Having ours fresh from the hand of God? 

Who feared the strangeness or wiles of you 

When from the unreckoned miles of you, 
Thrilling the wind with a sweet command, 
Youth unto youth called, young, young 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

North, where the hurrying seasons changed 
Over great gray plains where the trails lay 

Free as the sweeping Chinook we ranged, 
Setting our days to a saddle song. 

Through the icy challenge you flung to us, 

Through your shy Spring kisses that clung 

to us, 

Following far as the rainbow spanned, 
Fiercely we wooed you, young, young land ! 

South, where the sullen black mountains 


Limitless, shimmering lands of the sun, 
Over blinding trails where the hoofs rang 


Laughing or cursing, we rode and won. 
Drunk with the virgin white fire of you, 
Hotter than thirst was desire of you; 

Straight in our faces you burned your 


Marking your chosen ones, young, young 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

When did we long for the sheltered gloom 

Of the older game with its cautious odds? 
Gloried we always in sun and room, 

Spending our strength like the younger 


By the wild sweet ardor that ran in us, 
By the pain that tested the man in us, 

By the shadowy springs and the glaring 

You were our true-love, young, young land. 

When the last free trail is a prime, fenced lane 
And our graves grow weeds through for 
getful Mays, 
Richer and statelier then you ll reign, 

Mother of men whom the world will 


And your sons will love you and sigh for you, 
Labor and battle and die for you, 

But never the fondest will understand 
The way we have loved you, young, young 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


My fathers sleep on the sunrise plains, 

And each one sleeps alone. 
Their trails may dim to the grass and rains, 

For I choose to make my own. 
I lay proud claim to their blood and name, 

But I lean on no dead kin; 
My name is mine, for the praise or scorn, 
And the world began when I was born 

And the world is mine to win. 

They built high towns on their old log sills, 

Where the great, slow rivers gleamed, 
But with new, live rock from the savage hills 

I ll build as they only dreamed. 
The smoke scarce dies where the trail camp 

Till the rails glint down the pass; 
The desert springs into fruit and wheat 
And I lay the stones of a solid street 

Over yesterday s untrod grass. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

I waste no thought on my neighbor s birth 

Or the way he makes his prayer. 
I grant him a white man s room on earth 

If his game is only square. 
While he plays it straight I ll call him mate; 

If he cheats I drop him flat. 
Old class and rank are a wornout lie, 
For all clean men are as good as I, 

And a king is only that. 

I dream no dreams of a nurse-maid state 

That will spoon me out my food. 
A stout heart sings in the fray with fate 

And the shock and sweat are good. 
From noon to noon all the earthly boon 

That I ask my God to spare 
Is a little daily bread in store, 
With the room to fight the strong for more, 

And the weak shall get their share. 

The sunrise plains are a tender haze 

And the sunset seas are gray, 
But I stand here, where the bright skies blaze 

Over me and the big today. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

What good to me is a vague "maybe" 
Or a mournful "might have been," 
For the sun wheels swift from morn to morn 
And the world began when I was born 
And the world is mine to win. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


My tired hawse nickers for his own home 

A hoof clicks out a spark. 
The dim creek flickers to the lonesome stars; 

The trail twists down the dark. 
The ridge pines whimper to the pines below. 
The wind is blowin and I want you so. 

The birch has yellowed since I saw you last, 
The Fall haze blued the creeks, 

The big pine bellowed as the snow swished 

But still, above the peaks, 

The same stars twinkle that we used to know. 

The wind is blowin and I want you so. 

The stars up yonder wait the end of time 

But earth fires soon go black. 
I trip and wander on the trail I climb 

A fool who will look back 
To glimpse a fire dead a year ago. 
The wind is blowin and I want you so. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Who says the lover kills the man in me? 

Beneath the day s hot blue 
This thing hunts cover and my heart fights 

To laugh an hour or two. 
But now it wavers like a wounded doe. 
The wind is blowin and I want you so. 

1 02 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


Up from the prairie and through the pines, 
Over your straggling headboard lines 

Winds of the West go by. 
You must love them, you booted dead, 
More than the dreamers who died in bed 
You old-timers who took your lead 

Under the open sky! 

Leathery knights of the dim old trail, 
Lawful fighters or scamps from jail, 

Dimly your virtues shine. 
Yet who am I that I judge your wars, 
Deeds that my daintier soul abhors, 
Wide-open sins of the wide outdoors, 

Manlier sins than mine. 

Dear old mavericks, customs mend. 
I would not glory to make an end 

Marked like a homemade sieve. 
But with a touch of your own old pride 
Grant me to travel the trail I ride. 
Gamely and gaily, the way you died, 

Give me the nerve to live. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Ay, and for you I will dare assume 
Some Valhalla of sun and room 

Over the last divide. 
There, in eternally fenceless West, 
Rest to your souls, if they care to rest, 
Or else fresh horses beyond the crest 

And a star-speckled range to ride. 



Grass Grown Trails 


Trailing the last gleam after, 
In the valleys emptied of light, 

Ripples a whimsical laughter 
Under the wings of the night. 

Mocking the faded west airily, 

Meeting the little bats merrily, 
Over the mesas it shrills 
To the red moon on the hills. 

Mournfully rising and waning, 

Far through the moon-silvered land 

Wails a weird voice of complaining 
Over the thorns and the sand. 

Out of blue silences eerily. 

On to the black mountains wearily, 
Till the dim desert is crossed, 
Wanders the cry, and is lost. 

Here by the fire s ruddy streamers, 
Tired with our hopes and our fears, 

We inarticulate dreamers 

Hark to the song of our years. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Up to the brooding divinity 
Far in that sparkling infinity 
Cry our despair and delight, 
Voice of the Western night! 

1 08 

Grass Grown Trails 


I went and worked in a drippin mine 

Mong the rock and the oozin wood, 
For the dark seemed lit with a dollar sign 

And they told me money s good. 
So I jumped and sweat for a flat-foot boss 

Till my pocket bulged with pay, 
But my heart it fought like a led bronc hawse 

Till I flung my drill away. 

For the wind, the wind, the good free wind, 

She sang from the pine divide 
That the sky <was blue and the young years few 

And the world was big and wide! 
From the poor, bare hills all gashed with scars 

I rode till the range was crossed; 
Then I watched the gold of sunset bars 
And my camp-sparks glintin toward the stars 

And laughed at the pay I d lost. 

I went and walked in the city way 
Down a glitterin canyon street, 

For the thousand lights looked good and gay 
And they said life there was sweet. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

So the wimmen laughed while night reeled by 
And the wine ran red and gold, 

But their laugh was the starved wolf s huntin 

And their eyes were hard and old. 

And the wind, the wind, the clean free wind, 

She laughed through the April rains: 
"Come out and live by the wine I give 

In the smell of the greenin plains!" 
And I looked back once to the smoky towers 

Where my face had bleached so pale, 
Then loped through the lash of drivin show 
To the uncut sod and the prairie flowers 

And the old wide life o f the trail. 

I went and camped in the valley trees 

Where the thick leaves whispered rest, 
For love lived there mong the honey bees, 

And they told me love was best. 
There the twilight lanes were cool and dim 

And the orchards pink with May, 
Yet my eyes they d lift to the valley s rim 

Where the desert reached away. 


Grass Grown Trails 

And the wind, the wind, the wild free wind, 

She called from the web love spun 
To the unbought sand of the lone trail land 

And the sweet hot kiss o the sun! 
Oh, I looked back twice to the valley lass, 
Then I set my spurs and sung, 
For the sun sailed up above the pass 
And the mornin f wind was in the grass 
And my hawse and me was young. 

1 1 1 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


"The trail is long to the bison herd, 

The prairie rotten with rain, 
And look! the wings of the thunder bird 

Blacken the hills again. 
A medicine man the gods may balk 
Go fight for us with the thunder hawk!" 

The medicine man flung out his arms. 

"I am weary of woman talk 
And cook-fire witching and childish charms! 

I fight you the thunder hawk!" 
Then he took his arrows and climbed the butte 
While the warriors watched him, scared and 

A wind from the wings began to blow 
And the arrows of rain to shoot, 

As the medicine man raised high his bow, 
Standing alone on the butte, 

And the day went dark to the cowering band 

As the arrow leaped from his steady hand. 


Grass Grown Trails 

For the thunder hawk swooped down to fight 
And who in his way could stand? 

The flash of his eye was blinding bright 
And his wing-clap stunned the land. 

The braves yelled terror and loosed the rain 

And scattered far on the drowning plain. 

So, after the thunder hawk swept by, 
They found him, scorched and slain, 

Yet (fighting with gods, who fears to die?) 
He smiled with a light disdain. 

That smile was glory to all his clan 

But none dared touch the medicine man. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


Twas a hole called Red s Saloon 

In La Vaca town; 
Twas an old piano there, 

Blistered, marred and brown, 
And a man more battered still, 

Takin s drinks for fees, 
Played all night from memory 

On the yellow keys. 

While the glasses clinked and clashed 

On the sloppy bar, 
That piano s dreamy voice 

Took you out and far, 
Ridin old, forgotten trails 

Underneath the moon, 
Till you heard a drunken yell 

Back in Red s Saloon. 

Whirr of wheel and slap of cards, 

Talk of loss and gain, 
Mixed with hum of honey bees 

Down a sunny lane. 


Grass Grown Trails 

Glimpses of your mother s face, 

Touch of girlish lips 
Often made you lose your count 

As you stacked your chips. 

Scufflin feet and thud of fists, 

Curses hot as fire 
Still the music sang of love, 

Longin , lost desire, 
Dreams that never could have been, 

Joys that couldn t stay 
While the man upon the floor 

Wiped the blood away. 

Then, some way, it followed you, 

Slept upon your breast, 
Trailed you out across the range, 

Never let you rest; 
And for days and days you d hum 

Just one scrap of tune 
Funny place for music, though, 

Back in Red s Saloon 1 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


He never made parade of tooth or claw; 
He was plain as us that nursed the bawlin 

Though he had a rather meanin -lookin jaw, 

He was shy of exercisin it with words. 
As a circuit-ridin preacher of the law, 

All his preachin was the sort that hit the 

He was just a common ranger, just a ridin 

pilgrim stranger, 
And he labored with the sinners of the trail. 

Once a Yaqui knifed a woman, jealous mad, 
Then hit southward with the old, old kill 
er s plan, 

And nobody missed the woman very bad, 
While they d just a little rather missed the 

But the ranger crossed his trail and sniffed it 


And then loped away to bring him back 

Grass Grown Trails 

For he stood for peace and order on the 

lonely, sunny border 

And his business was to hunt for sinful 

So the trail it led him southward all the day, 
Through the shinin country of the thorn 

and snake, 
Where the heat had drove the lizards from 

their play 
To the shade of rock and bush and yucca 

And the mountains heaved and rippled far 

And the desert broiled as on the devil s 

But he didn t mind the devil if his head kep 

clear and level 

And the hoofs beat out their quick and 
steady song. 

Came the yellow west, and on far-off rise 
Something black crawled up and dropped 
beyond the rim, 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

And he reached his rifle out and rubbed his 

While he cussed the southern hills for 

growin dim. 

Down a hazy royo came the coyote cries, 
Like they laughed at him because he d lost 

his mark, 
And the smile that brands a fighter pulled his 

mouth a little tighter 

As he set his spurs and rode on through the 

Came the moonlight on a trail that wriggled 

Through the mountains that look into 

And the shadows strung his nerves like banjo 


And the miles and minutes dragged un 
earthly slow. 

Then a black mesquite spit out a thread of fire 
And the canyon walls flung thunder back 


Grass Grown Trails 

And he caught himself and fumbled at his 

rifle while he grumbled 
That his bridle arm had weight enough for 

Though his rifle pointed wavy-like and slack 
And he grabbed for leather at his hawse s 


Yet he sent a soft-nosed exhortation back 
That convinced the sinner just above the 

So the sinner sprawled among the shadows 

While the ranger drifted north beneath the 

Wabblin crazy in his saddle, workin hard to 

stay astraddle 

While the hoofs beat out a slow and sorry 

When the sheriff got up early out of bed, 
How he stared and vowed his soul a total 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

As he saw the droopy thing all blotched with 

That came ridin in aboard a tremblin 1 


But "I got im" was the most the ranger said 
And you couldn t hire him, now, to tell the 


He was just a quiet ranger, just a ridin pil 
grim stranger 
And he labored with the sinners of the traiL 

1 20 

Grass Grown Trails 


Oh, days whoop by with swingin lope 

And days slip by a-sleepin , 
And days must drag, with lazy rope, 

Along the trail a-creepin\ 
Heeya-a! you cattle; drift away! 
Heeyow! the slow hoofs sift away 
And sunny dust clouds lift away, 

Along the trail a-creepin . 

My pard may sing of sighin love 

And I of roarin battle, 
But all the time we sweat and shove 

And follow up the cattle. 
Heeya-a! the bawlin crowd of you! 
Heeyow the draggin cloud of you! 
We re glad and gay and proud of you, 

We men that follow cattle! 

But all the world s a movin herd 
Where men drift on together, 

And some may spur and some are spurred, 
But most are horns and leather! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Heeya-a! the rider sings along, 
Heeyow! the reined hawse swings along 
And drifts and drags and flings along 
The mob of horns and leather. 

The outlaws fight to break away; 

The weak and lame are crawlin , 
But only dead ones quit the play, 

The dust-cloud and the bawlin . 
Heeya-a! it s grief and strife to us; 
Heeyow! it s child and wife to us; 
By leap or limp, it s life to us; 

The dust-cloud and the bawlin . 

Some dream ahead to pastures green, 
Some stare ahead to slaughter, 

But, anyway, night drops between 
And brings us rest and water. 

Heeya-a! you cattle, drift away! 

Heeyow! the dust-clouds lift away; 

The glarin miles will shift away 
And leave us rest and water. 


Grass Grown Trails 


Out from the ranch on a Saturday night, 
Ridin a hawse that s a shootin star, 

Close on the flanks of the flyin daylight, 
Racin with dark for the J L Bar. 

Fox-trot and canter will do for the day; 

It s a gallop, my love, when I m ridin your 

Up the arroyo the trippin hoofs beat, 
Flingin the hinderin gravel wide; 
Now your light glimmers across the mes- 


Glimpsed from the top of a rocky divide; 
Down through a draw where the shadows are 

I m comin , my darlin , I m ridin your way. 

West, where the sky is a-blushin afar, 
Matchin your cheeks as the daylight dies, 

West, where the shine of a glitterin star 
Hints of the light I will find in your eyes, 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Night-birds are passin the signal to say: 
"He s comin , my lady, he s ridin your 

Hoof-beats are measurin seconds so fast, 
Clickin them off with an easy rhyme; 

Minutes will grow into months at the last, 
Mebbe to bring us a marryin time. 

Life would be singin and work would be play 

If every night I was ridin your way. 


Grass Grown Trails 


Lazy little hawse, it s noon 

And weVe wasted saddle leather, 

But the mornin s slip so soon 
When we drift around together 
In this lazy, shinin weather, 

Sunny, easy-goin June. 

Who kin study shamblin herds, 
How they calve or die or wander, 

When the bridegroom mockin -birds, 
Singin here and there and yonder, 
Trill that June s too bright to ponder 

And life s just too fine for words 1 

Down the desert s hazy blue 

See the tall gray whirlwinds f arin , 

Slow, contented sort of crew 
Trailin cross the sunny barren, 
Headed nowhere and not carin 

Just the same as me and you. 

From a world of unfenced room 

Just a breath of breeze is strayin , 
Triflin with the yucca bloom 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Till its waxy bells are swayin , 
On my cheek warm kisses layin 
Soft as touch of ostrich plume. 

When the July lightnin gleams 

This brown range will start to workin , 

Hills be green and tricklin streams 
Down each deep arroyo lurkin ; 
Now the sleepy land is shirking 

Drowzin , smilin in her dreams. 

Steppin little hawse, it s noon. 
Turquoise blue the far hills glimmer; 

"Sun sun sun," the mockers croon 
Where the yellow range lands shimmer, 
And our sparklin spirits simmer 

For we re young yet, and it s June! 


Grass Grown Trails 


I laughed when the dawn was a-peepin 
And swore in the blaze of the noon, 

But down from the stars is a-creepin 
A softer, oneasier tune. 
Away, and away, and away, 
The whisperin night seems to say 

Though the trail-weary cattle are sleepin 
And the desert dreams under the moon. 

By day, if the roarin herd scatters, 

My heart it is steady and set, 
But now, when they re quiet, it patters 

Like the ball in a spinnin roulette. 

Away, and away, and away 

To the rim where the heat lightnin s play 
Out there is the one trail that matters 

To the valley I never forget. 

There s a pass where the black shadows 

Then a desert all silvery blue, 
A divide, and the breaks by the river, 

Then a light in the valley and you! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Away, and away, and away 
Tis a month till I see you by day, 
But under the moon it s forever 
And the weary trail winds the world 

The coyotes are laughin out yonder, 

A happy owl whoops on the hill 
Oh, wild, lucky things that kin wander 

As far and as free as they willl 

Away, and away, and away, 

And I that am wilder than they 
Must loll in my saddle and ponder 

Or sing for the cows to be still I 

I see the dark river waves wrinkle ; 

The valley trees droop in a swoon ; 
You re dreamin where valley bells tinkle 

And half-asleep mockin -birds croon. 

Away, and away, and away 

Do your dainty dreams ever stray 
To a camp where the desert stars twinkle 

And a lone rider sings to the moon? 


Grass Grown Trails 


Stop! there s the wild bunch to right of the 


Heads up and ears up and ready to sail, 
Led by a mare with the green in her eyes, 
Mean as the devil and nearly as wise. 
Circle em, boys, and the pass is the place; 
Settle your heels for a rowelin race. 

Oh, hawse work! the sweep and the drift 
of it! 

Hawse work! the leap and the lift of it! 
Who wants to fly in the empty blue sky 

When he kin ride on the hawse work! 

Hi! and they re off in a whirlwind. So! 
Straight in the line we don t want em to go; 
Light-footed, wild-hearted, look at em flit! 
Head em, now! rowel, and turn loose the bit! 
Wheel and the rip and the rush and the beat, 
Rattlin rocks and the whippin mesquitel 

Oh, hawse work! the swing and the swell 

of it! 
Hawse work! the sing and the yell of it! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Holler goodbye to the dull and the dry; 
Leave em behind on the hawse work. 

Shorty is down with his hawse in a heap ; 
Might have pulled in for a gully so deep. 
Reddy he rides like he s tired of his life; 
Ought to be thinkin he s got a wife 
Shrinkin and thinkin of bones that may 

No! Yipl we ve headed the mare and her 


Oh, hawse work! the rip and the tear of it! 

Hawse work! the dip and the dare of it! 
Life flutters high when you re lookin to 

That is the fun of the hawse work. 

Hi! and you re foolish for once, old lass, 
Streakin it straight for the trap in the pass. 
Into the canyon the hoof-thunder drums 
Where is that holdup? Hump! there he 


Crow-hoppin down from the bluff too late! 
Damn! and they re gone for a tour of the 



Grass Grown Trails 

Oh, hawse work, the rant and the fuss of it! 

Hawse work! the pant and the cuss of it! 
Yet when I sigh and the world is a lie 

Give me a day on the hawse work! 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


Fathers with eyes of ancient ire, 

Old eagles shorn of flight, 
Forget the breed of my blue-eyed sire 
While I sit this hour by the council fire, 

All red in the fire s red light. 

Chant me the day of the war-steed s prance 

And the signal fires on the buttes, 
Of the Cheyenne scalps on the lifted lance, 
Of the women raped from the Pawnee dance 
And the wild death trail of the Utes. 

Sing me the song of the buffalo run 
To the edge of the canyon snare, 

With the roaring plunge when the meat was 

And the flash of knives in the low red sun 
And the good blood smell in the air. 

Chant me the might of the Manitou 

But the old song drags and dies. 
Old things have drifted the sunset through 
Till the very God of the land comes new 

From the rim where the young stars rise! 


Grass Grown Trails 

Fathers, red men, the red flame falls, 

And over the dim dawn lands 
My white soul hunts me again and calls 
To the lanes 0f law and the shadow of walls 

And a woman with soft white hands. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


Cut loose a hundred rivers, 

Roaring across my trail, 
Swift as the lightning quivers, 

Loud as a mountain gale. 
I build me a boat of slivers; 

I weave me a sail of fur, 
And ducks may founder and die 
But I 

Cross that river to herl 

Bunch the deserts together, 
Hang three suns in the vault; 

Scorch the lizards to leather, 
Strangle the springs with salt. 

I fly with a buzzard feather, 
I dig me wells with a spur, 

And snakes may famish and fry 
But I 

Cross that desert to her! 

Murder my sleep with revel; 
Make me ride through the bogs 


Grass Grown Trails 

Knee to knee with the devil, 
Just ahead of the dogs. 

I harrow the Bad Lands level, 
I teach the tiger to purr, 

For saints may wallow and lie 

But I 
Go clean-hearted to her! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


As I was ridin all alone 

And winkin in the noontime glare, 
I seen a hawse all hide and bone 

Walk round a willow dead and bare 
Walk round and round, with limp and 

And hunt the shade that wasn t there. 
And then says I : "That sorry steed 
Has been and et the loco weed." 

Near by a spreadin live oak laid 
Its wide, cool shadow on the ground, 

But then he knowed that willow s shade 
Was just a little further round 

And reckoned, each slow step he made, 
That in the next it would be found. 

There, like a coon, his thoughts were treed 

Since he had et the loco weed. 

The water trail went windin by, 

The sweet brown grass furred every slope 
And he was ga nt and starved and dry, 

Grass Grown Trails 

Yet, on his ghostly picket rope 
Led round and round, he still must try 

That hopeless circle of his hope. 
He didn t think of drink or feed 
Since he had et the loco weed. 

A playful wild bunch topped the hill 
And stared with eyes all impish bright 

And whinnered to him sweet and shrill, 
Then flung their heads and loped from 

Yet from that everlastin mill 

They couldn t make him stray a mite. 

He never seen their gay stampede 

For he had et the loco weed. 

When next that range I had to ride 

Beneath his willow tree he lay, 
Just wornout hoofs and faded hide 

And big black birds that flopped away; 
But yet I reckon that he died 

Still hopeful happy who kin say? 
Sometimes I think I mostly need 
To eat some sort of loco weed. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


Two miles of ridin from the school, without 

a bit of trouble 
The main road hit her father s ranch as 

straight as you could fall. 
I led her by a shorter cut that made the dis 
tance double 

And guided her along a trail that wasn t 
there at all. 

The long <way, the long way, but ridin it to 
I never cared a feather for the length and 

never shall f 
With happy hoofs that shuffled to the singin 

saddle leather 

And laughin wind that ruffled sunny miles 
of chaparral. 

The trail of our meanderin would tire a wolf 

to follow; 

The range was hardly wide enough for us 
to go around. 

Grass Grown Trails 

I dared to hope she liked it, bare hill and 

thorny hollow, 

And prayed that all her likin wasn t wast 
ed on the ground. 

The long <way, the long way, and down the 

wind we drifted, 
And soon the sand was sifted in our tracks 

and they were gone, 
I dreamed of no forgettin while to me her 

face was lifted, 

Nor knowed the sun was settin , for her 
eyes were full of dawn. 

Perhaps I hoped that we were lost without a 

trail to guide us. 
It shocked me like a bullet when the dogs 

began to bark, 
And suddenly, from nowhere, the ranch was 

there beside us, 

She reined away and left me, and the world 
was in the dark. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

The long way, the long way, of all my old 

Gone gray like campfire embers when the 

midnight coyote shrills, 
One hour stays golden mellow do you reckon 

she remembers 

That sunset fadin yellow through the 
notches of the hills? 


Grass Grown Trails 


Forty miles from Taggart s store, 

Fifty yet to grind, 
Heavin six strung out before, 

Trailer snubbed behind; 
Half a world of glarin sand 

Prayin for a tree, 
Nothin movin cross the land 

But the sun and me. 

Chuck an luck! luck an chuck! 

Grunts the workin wheels; 
Lazy gust swirls up the dust 

From the hawses heels. 
I ve been young and raced and sung f 

But I ve learnt my load. 
Slow, slow, on we go 

Out the stretchin road. 

Where the sky-line waves and breaks 

Shines a misty beach 
And the blue of ripplin lakes 

Lakes no man kin reach. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Just beyond my leaders bits 

Winds the life I know, 
Ruts and royos, hills and pits 

In a daylong row. 

Chuck an luck! luck an chuck! 

Life s more miss than hit. 
Luck s the thing I dream and sing; 

Chuck is all I git! 
Neath the sky I crawl and fry 

Like the horny toad. 
Slow, slow, on we go 

Out the stretchin road. 

When I reach that sparklin line 

Where the ripples run, 
There ll be just this road of mine 

And the dust and sun. 
Mebbe on my last far hill, 

Where the dream-mist clears, 
I ll be freighting f reightin still 

Down the road of years. 

Chuck an luck! luck an chuck! 
Sky-lines mostly lie, 


Grass Grown Trails 

Yet they beat the limp mesquite 

That goes trailin by. 
Luck enough to move my stuff 

More I ve never knowed. 
Slow, slow, on we go 

Out the stretchin road. 

Slim and far our shadow swings; 

Sun is on his knees. 
Some one s campin at the springs 

Smell it down the breeze. 
Chuck time, boys, and sleep besides, 

When we ve chomped our hay. 
Durn your dusty, trusty hides! 

You ve sho earned your pay. 

Chuck an luck! luck an chuck! 

Grunts the weary wheels; 
Dreams untold and sunset gold, 

Cussin sweat and meals. 
If you kin, Lord, let me win, 

But I ll move my load. 
Slow, slow, on we go 

Out the stretchin f road. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

YouVe watched the ground-hog s shadow and 

the shiftin weather signs 
Till the Northern prairie starred itse f with 

flowers ; 
YouVe seen the snow a-meltin up among the 

Northern pines 
And the mountain creeks a-roarin with the 

YouVe blessed the stranger sunlight when the 

Winter days were done 
And the Summer creepin down the budded 

Did you ever see a Springtime in the home 

range of the sun, 

When the desert land is waitin for the 

The April days are sun and sun ; the last thin 

cloud is fled. 

It s gold above the eastern mountain crest, 
Then blaze upon the yellow range all day 

from overhead 
And then a stripe of gold across the west. 


Grass Grown Trails 

The dry wind mourns among the hills, a-hunt- 

in trees and grass, 

Then down the desert flats it rises higher 
And sweeps a rollin dust-storm up and flings 

it through the pass 

And fills the evenin west with smoulderin 

It s sun and sun without a change the lazy 

length o May 

And all the little sun things own the land. 
The horned toad basks and swells himse f; 

the bright swifts dart and play; 
The rattler hunts or dozes in the sand. 
The wind comes off the desert like it brushed 

a bed of coals; 
The sickly range grass withers down and 

The bony cattle bawl around the dryin water 


Then stagger off along the stony trails. 
The days crawl on to Summer suns that 

slower blaze and wheel; 
The mesas heave and quiver in the noon. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

The mountains they are ashes and the sky is 

shinin steel, 
Though the mockin -birds are singin that 

it s June. 
And here and there among the hills, a-stand- 

in white and tall, 
The droopin plumes of yucca flowers 

The buzzards circle, circle where the starvin 

cattle fall 
And the whole hot land seems dyin in a 

But last across the sky-line comes a thing 

that s strange and new, 
A little cloud of saddle blanket size. 
It blackens long the mountains and bulges up 

the blue 
And shuts the weary sun-glare from our 

Then the lightnin s gash the heavens and the 

thunder jars the world 
And the gray of fallin water wraps the 


Grass Grown Trails 

And cross the burnin ranges, down the 

wind, the word is whirled: 
"Here s another year of livin , and the 

Rains I" 
YouVe seen your fat fields ripplin with the 

treasure that they hoard; 
Have you seen a mountain stretch and rub 

its eyes? 
Or bare hills lift their streamin faces up and 

thank the Lord, 
Fairly tremblin with their gladness and 

Have you heard the royos singin and the new 

breeze hummin gay, 
As the greenin ranges shed their dusty 

Just a whole dead world sprung back to life 

and laughin in a day! 
Did you ever see the comin of the Rains? 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


When the dreamers of old Coronado, 

From the hills where the heat ripples run, 
Made a dust to the far Colorado 

And wagged their steel caps in the sun, 
They prayed like the saint and the martyr 

And swore like the devils below, 
For a man is both angel and Tartar 

In the land where the dry rivers flow. 

Ay, the Border, the sun smitten Border, 

That fences the Land of the Free, 
Where the desert glares grim like a warder 

And the Rio gleams on to the sea; 
Where ruins, like dreamy old sages, 
Hint tales of dead empires and ages, 
Where a young race is rearing the stages 
Of ambitious empires to be. 

Came the padres to soften the savage 
And show him the heavenly goal ; 

Came Spaniards to piously ravage 
And winnow his flesh from his soul; 


Grass Grown Trails 

Then miner and riotous herder, 

Over-riding white breed of the North, 

Brought progress, and new sorts of murder, 
And a kind of perpetual Fourth. 

Ay, the Border, the whimsical Border, 

Deep purples and dazzling gold, 
Soft hearts full of mirthful disorder, 
Hard faces, sun wrinkled and old, 
Warm kisses neath patio roses, 
Cold lead as the luck-god disposes, 
Clean valor fame never discloses, 
Black trespasses laughingly told! 

Then out from the peaceful old places 

Walked the Law, grave, strong and serene, 
And the harsh elbow-rub of the races 

Was padded, with writs in between. 
Then stilled was the strife and the racket 

That neighborly love might advance 
With a knife in the sleeve of its jacket 

And a gun in the band of its pants. 

Ay, the Border, the bright, placid Border! 
It sleeps, like a snake in the sun, 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Like a "hole" tamped and primed in due or 

Like a shining and full throated gun. 
But the dust-devil dances and staggers 
And the yucca flower daintily swaggers 
At her birth from a cluster of daggers, 

And ever the heat ripples run. 

Fierce, hot, is the Border s bright daytime, 

Calm, sweet, the vast night on its plains; 
White hell on the mesas, its Maytime, 

A green-and-gold heaven, its Rains. 
It is grimmer than slumber s dark brother, 

Tis as gay as the mocking-bird likes; 
It loves like a lioness mother 

And strikes as the rattlesnake strikes. 

Ay, the Border, bewildering Border, 

Our youngest, and oldest, domains, 
Where the face of the Angel Recorder 

Knits hard between chuckles and pains, 
Vast peace, the clear sky s earthly double, 
Witch cauldron forever a-bubble, 
Home of mystery, splendor and trouble 
And a people with sun in their veins. 

Grass Grown Trails 


No fresh green things in the Bad Lands bide; 

It is all stark red and gray, 
And strewn with bones that had lived and 

Ere the first man saw the day. 
When the sharp crests dream in the sunset 

And the bat through the canyon veers, 
You will sometimes catch, if you listen long, 
The tones of the Bad Lands mystic song, 

A song of a million years. 

The place is as dry as a crater cup, 

Yet you hear, as the stars shine free, 
t r rom the barren gulches sounding up, 

The lap of a spawning sea, 
V breeze that cries where the great ferns rise 

From the pools on a new-made shore, 
With the whip and whir of batlike wings 
And the snarl of slimy, fighting things 

And the tread of the dinosaur. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

Then the sea voice ebbs through untold morns, 

And the jungle voices reign 
The hunting howl and the clash of horns 

And the screech of rage and pain. 
Harsh and grim is the old earth hymn 

In that far brute paradise, 
And as ages drift the rough strains fall 
To a single note more grim than all, 

The crack of the glacial ice. 

So the song runs on, with shift and change, 

Through the years that have no name, 
And the late notes soar to a higher range, 

But the theme is still the same. 
Man s battle-cry and the guns reply 

Blend in with the old, old rhyme 
That was traced in the score of the strata 


While millenniums winked like campfire 

Down the winds of unguessed time. 

There s a finer fight than of tooth and claw, 
More clean than of blade and gun, 

Grass Grown Trails 

But, fair or foul, by the Great Bard s law 
Twill be fight till the song is done. 

Not mine to sigh for the song s deep "why," 
Which only the Great Bard hears. 

My soul steps out to the martial swing 

Of the brave old song that the Bad Lands 

The song of a million years. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 


Heart of me, are you hearing 
The drum of hoofs in the rains? 
Over the Springtime plains I ride 
Knee to knee with Spring 
And glad as the summering sun that comes 
Galloping north through the zodiac! 
Heart of me, let s forget 
The plains death white and still, 
When lonely love through the stillness called 
Like a smothered stream that sings of Summer 
Under the snow on a Winter night. 
Now the frost is blown from the sky 
And the plains are living again. 
Lark lovers sing on the sunrise trail, 
Wild horses call to me out of the noon, 
Watching me pass with impish eyes, 
Gray coyotes laugh in the quiet dusk 
And the plains are glad all day with me. 
Heart of me, all the way 
My heart and the hoofs keep time, 
And the wide, sweet winds from the greening 


Grass Grown Trails 

Shout in my ears a glory song, 
For nearer, nearer, mile and mile, 
Over the quivering rim of the plains, 
Is the valley that Spring and I love best 
And the waiting eyes of you! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


We re the prairie pilgrim crew, 

Sailin with the sun, 
Lookin West to meet a great reward, 
Trailin toward a land that s new 

Like our fathers done, 
Trustin in our rifles and the Lord. 

A-llset! Go ahead! 
Out the prairie trail. 
Leave the woods and settlements behind. 
Trail and settle, work and fight 
Till the rollin earth is white, 
That s the law and gospel of our kind. 

Desert suns and throats o dust, 

But we never stop; 

Wimmin-folks are knittin as they ride. 
We re a breed that, when we must, 

Fight until we drop, 
But our work and git-thar is our pride. 

A-ll set! Go ahead! 
Up the sandy Platte. 
Leave the circle smokin in the dawn, 


Grass Grown Trails 

So the comin hosts will know, 
Mongst the trails of buffalo 
Where their darin brother whites have gone. 

Night so black twould blind a fox, 

Yells and feathered sleet, 
Aim the best you kin and trust to luck. 
Arrows whang the wagon box 

But all hell kain t beat 
Rifles from Missoury and Kentuck. 

A-ll set! Go ahead! 
Leave the dead to sleep 
Till the desert sees the Judgment Day. 
Mourn the good boys laid so low f 
But we ll mourn them on the go 
Pawnee! Ogalalla! Cl ar the way! 

Far across the glarin plain 

See the mountain peaks 
Glimmer long the edge like flecks o foam. 
Shove! you oxen, till your chain 

Stretches out and squeaks; 
Somewhere out beyond that range is Home! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

A-ll set! Go ahead! 
Trail in toward the West 
Till the sunset s shinin flag is furled. 
Ay, our flag s the Western skies, 
Flag that drew our fathers eyes, 
Flag that leads the white man round the 

Grass Grown Trails 


Red is the arch of the nightmare sky, 
Red are the mountains beneath, 

Bright where a million red imps leap high, 
Dancing and snapping their teeth. 

A keen fight! a clean fight! 

Shoulder your shovels and follow 
Up, while they stop in the pines at the top, 

Shooting their sparks in showers. 
Up, with your hats ducking under the smoke 

of it, 

Next to the scorch of it, into the choke of it! 
Fight for the ranch in the hollow. 
Fight! for it is not ours. 

Why are we fighting from dark to day, 

From summit to canyon wall? 
Twice for the Service, and once the pay 
Most, the hot fun of it all I 

A stand fight! a grand fight! 
Into the smother we wallow, 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Stopping their march where the ridge pines 


Over the shriveling flowers. 
Stick! with the smoke streaming out of the 

coats of you, 
Sweat in the eyes of you, fire in the throats 

of you! 

Fight for the ranch in the hollow. 
Fight! for it is not ours. 

1 60 

Grass Grown Trails 


By the rim rocks on the hill 

The canyon side is rifted 
Where Grasping Gabe, with pick and drill, 

Once mucked and shot and drifted. 
His hairy arms were never still; 

His eyes were never lifted. 

The yellow stuff/ The yellow stuff/ 

All day his steel would tinkle 
And when the blast roared out at last 

He scanned each rocky wrinkle. 
That tunnel s face was life to him, 
And joy and kids and wife to him 

Its thread of yellow twinkle. 

By the rim rocks where he wrought 

A wall that looked eternal 
Caved in one day and Gabe was caught 

Snug as a walnut kernel, 
Shut up with hunger, thirst and thought 

In dark that was infernal. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

The yellow stuff! The yellow stuff! 

Then Gabe forgot its uses, 
And all the gold the hills could hold 

Looked like a pair of deuces. 
No joy was dust and ore to him; 
The gold outside was more to him 

That slanted through the spruces. 

By the rim rocks, far away 

From helpers or beholders, 
Gabe worked a lifetime in a day, 

Then shoved out head and shoulders 
And cried and kissed the light that lay 

Upon the sunny boulders. 

The yellow stuff! The yellow stuff! 

He blessed the sunset shining f 
Too high in grade to be assayed 

And pure beyond refining. 
What scum his work had doled to him f 
When God would give such gold to him 

Without a lick of mining! 


Grass Grown Trails 


All day across the sagebrush flat 

Beneath the sun of June, 
My sheep they loaf and feed and blat 

Their never changin tune. 
And then at night time, when they lay 

As quiet as a stone, 
I hear the gray wolf far away; 

"Alo-one!" he says, "Alo-one!" 

A-al m-a! ba-a! eh-eh-eh! 

The tune the woollies sing; 
It s rasped my ears, it seems, for years, 

Though really just since spring. 
And nothin , far as I kin see 

Around the circle s sweep, 
But sky and plains, my dreams and me 

And them infernal sheep. 

I ve got one book it s poetry 

A bunch of pretty wrongs 
An Eastern lunger gave to me; 

He said twas "shepherd songs." 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

But though that poet sure is deep 
And has sweet things to say, 

He never seen a herd of sheep, 
Or smelt them, anyway. 

A-a! ma-a! ba-a! eh-eh-eh! 

My woollies greasy gray, 
An awful change has hit the range 

Since that old poet s day. 
For you re just silly f on ry brutes 

And I look like distress 
And my pipe ain t the kind that toots 

And there s no {( shepherdess." 

Yet way down home in Kansas State, 

Bliss Township, Section Five, 
There s one that promised me to wait, 

The sweetest girl alive. 
That s why I salt my wages down 

And mend my clothes with strings, 
While others blow their pay in town 

For booze and other things. 

A-a! ma-a! ba-a! eh-eh-eh! 
My Minnie, don t be sad; 


Grass Grown Trails 

Next year we ll lease that splendid piece 

That corners on your dad. 
We ll drive to "literary," dear, 

The way we used to do 
And turn my lonesome workin here 

To happiness for you. 

Suppose, down near that rattlers den, 

While I sit here and dream, 
I d see a bunch of ugly men 

And hear a woman scream. 
Suppose I d let my rifle shout 

And drop the men in rows, 
And then the woman should turn out 

My Minnie! just suppose. 

A-a! ma-a! ba-a! eh-eh-eh! 

The tune would then be gay; 
There is, I mind, a parson kind 

Just forty miles away. 
Why Eden would come back again 

With sage and sheep corrals. 
And I could swing a singin pen 

To write her "pastorals." 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

I pack a rifle on my arm 

And jump at flies that buzz; 
There s nothin here to do me harm 

I sometimes wish there was. 
If through that brush above the pool 

A red should creep and creep 
Wah! cut down on im! Stop, you fooll 

That s nothin but a sheep. 

A-a! ma-a! ba-a! Hell I 

Oh, sky and plain and bluff! 
Unless my mail comes up the trail 

I m locoed, sure enough. 
What s that? a dust-whiff near the butte 

Right where my last trail ran, 
A movin speak, a wagon ! Hoot! 

Thank God! here comes a man. 


Grass Grown Trails 


There s a song in the canyon below me 

And a song in the pines overhead, 
As the sunlight crawls down from the snow- 

And rustles the deer from his bed. 
With mountains of green all around me 

And mountains of white up above 
And mountains of blue down the sky-line, 

I follow the trail that I love. 

My hands they are hard from the shovel, 

My leg is rheumatic by streaks 
And my face it is wrinkled from squintin 

At the glint of the sun on the peaks. 
You pity the prospector sometimes 

As if he was out of your grade. 
Why, you are all prospectors, bless you! 

I m only a branch of the trade. 
You prospect for wealth and for wisdom, 

You prospect for love and for fame; 
Our work don t just match as to details, 

But the principle s mostly the same. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

While I swing a pick in the mountains 
You slave in the dust and the heat 

And scratch with your pens for a color 
And assay the float of the street. 

You wail that your wisdom is salted, 

That fame never pays for the mill, 
That wealth hasn t half enough value 

To pay you for climbin the hill. 
You even say love s El Dorado, 

A pipe dream that never endures 
Well, my luck ain t all that I want it, 

But I never envied you yours. 
You re welcome to what the town gives you. 

To prizes of laurel and rose, 
But leave me the song in the pine tops, 

The breath of a wind from the snows. 
With mountains of green all around me 

And mountains of white up above 
And mountains of blue down the sky-line, 

I ll follow the trail that I love. 

1 68 

Grass Grown Trails 


God of the open, though I am so simple 

Out in the wind I can travel with you, 
Noons when the hot mesas ripple and dimple, 

Nights when the stars glitter cool in the 

Too far you stand for the reach of my hand, 

Yet I can feel your big heart as it beats 
Friendly and warm in the sun or the storm. 

Are you the same as the God of the streets? 

Yours is the sunny blue roof I ride under; 
Mountain and plain are the house you have 

Sometimes it roars with the wind and the 


But in your house I am never afraid. 
He? Oh, they give him the license to live, 

Aim, in their ledgers, to pay him his due, 
Gather by herds to present him with words 
Words I What are words when my heart 
talks with you? 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

God of the open, forgive an old ranger 
Penned among walls where he never sees 

Well do I know, though their God seems a 


Earth has no room for another like you. 
Shut out the roll of the wheels from my soul; 

Send me a wind that is singing and sweet 
Into this place where the smoke dims your 

Help me see you in the God of the street. 


Grass Grown Trails 


There was a sunny, savage land 

Beneath the eagle s wings, 
And there, across the thorns and sand, 

Wild rovers rode as kings. 
Is it a yarn from long ago 

And far across the sea? 
Could that land be the land we know? 

Those roving riders we? 

The trail s a lane, the trail s a lane. 

How comes it, pard of mine? 
Within a day it slipped away 

And hardly left a sign. 
Now history a tale has gained 

To please the younger ears 
A race of kings that rose f and reigned f 

And passed in fifty years! 

Dream back beyond the cramping lanes 
To glories that have been 

The camp smoke on the sunset plains, 
The riders loping in: 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Loose rein and rowelled heel to spare, 

The wind our only guide, 
For youth was in the saddle there 

With half a world to ride. 

The trail s a lane, the trail s a lane. 

Dead is the branding fire. 
The prairies wild are tame and mild, 

All close-corralled with wire. 
The sunburnt demigods who ranged 

And laughed and lived so free 
Have topped the last divide, or changed 

To men like you and me. 

Where, in the valley fields and fruits, 

Now hums a lively street, 
We milled a mob of fighting brutes 

Among the grim mesquite. 
It looks a far and fearful way 

The trail from Now to Then 
But time is telescoped to-day, 

A hundred years in ten. 

The trail s a lane, the trail s a lane. 
Our brows are scarcely seamed, 


Grass Grown Trails 

But we may scan a mighty span 
Methuselah ne er dreamed. 

Yet, pardner, we are dull and old, 
With paltry hopes and fears, 

Beside those rovers gay and bold 
Far riding down the years! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


You and I settled this section together; 
Youthful and mettled and wild were we 

You were the gladdest town out in the 

weather ; 

I was the maddest young scamp among 

Latigo Town, ay, Latigo Town, 
Child of the mesa sun-flooded and brown, 
That hour of gracious romance and good 

Splendid, audacious, comes never again. 

Many a rover as brash as a sparrow, 
Loping in over the amethyst plains, 

Reined for your spinning roulette and your 

Light-hearted sinning and fiddled refrains. 

Latigo Town, ay, Latigo Town, 
We made a past you are still living down, 
Keen for a tussle, with salt in our marrow, 
Steel in our muscles and sun in our veins! 

Grass Grown Trails 

Rowels that jingled and rigs that were tat 
Yet how we tingled to dreams that were 


Slim was the treasure we gathered and scat 
But can you measure the wind and the sky? 

Latigo Town, ay, Latigo Town, 
Freedom and youth were a robe and a 


Then we were bosses of riches that mattered, 
Laughing at losses of things you can buy. 

Town that was fiery and careless and Spanish, 
Boy that was wiry and wayward and glad 

Over the border to limbo they vanish; 

Progress and order decreed they were bad. 

Latigo Town, ay, Latigo Town, 
Pursy with culture and civic renown, 
Never censorious progress can banish 

Dreams of the glorious youth that we had! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


Deeply the buffalo trod it 

Beating it barren as brass; 
Now the soft rain-fingers sod it, 

Green to the crest of the pass. 
Backward it slopes into history; 
Forward it lifts into mystery. 

Here is but wind in the grass. 

Backward the millions assemble, 
Bannered with dust overhead, 
Setting the prairie a-tremble 

Under the might of their tread. 
Forward the sky-line is glistening 
And to the reach of our listening 

Drifts not a sound from the dead. 

Quick, or swift seasons fade it! 

Look on his works while they show. 
This is the bison. He made it. 

Thus say the old ones who know. 
This is the bison a-pondering 
Vague as the prairie wind wandering 
Over the green or the snow. 


Grass Grown Trails 


I reared your fathers long ago 

Big, savage children from the breast, 

But in the circle of my glow 

You sit to-night a haughty guest, 

For far beyond their artless day 

Your lofty trail has stretched away. 
So wise I so wise! 

But still the child is in your eyes. 

Your fathers feared the club and claw, 
Their days were full of fight and flight; 

Behind you stands your mighty law 
To guard your lonely sleep to-night, 

Or, if some lawless brute run free, 

A rifle gleams across your knee. 
So strong! so wise! 

But still the fear is in your eyes. 

They filled their little tents with spoil, 
Then vaguely longed for greater things; 

Your shining cities spurn the soil 

And through your valleys plenty sings; 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

You span the seas they endless deemed 
And rule a world they never dreamed. 

So great! so wise! 
But still their longing in your eyes. 

They made them gods of flood and fire; 

With simple awe they watched the stars; 
You bend all powers to your desire; 

The river gods must draw your cars, 
The drudging fire gods drive your fleets, 
The lightning slaves about your streets. 

So proud! so wise! 
Yet their old wonder in your eyes! 

They dreamed a god might in them dwell 
Who lived beyond the silenced heart; 

You know your mortal self so well 
A wondrous thing in every part, 

But earthbound as this gaunt mesquite 

Or firelit dust about your feet. 
So hard! so wise! 

But still the god is in your eyes. 

Poor little primal thing am I, 

Great stranger, yet I mock your lore; 

Grass Grown Trails 

Your thickest volumes often lie 

And these still stars could tell you more, 

The wind that sighs across the sand 

Or I, but could you understand? 
So wise! so wise! 

A puzzled child within your eyes. 



Ne<w Poems 


Westward from the greener places 

Where the rivers glint and twine 
Stretch the gold-and-purple spaces 

Of the country that is mine; 
And to lilac Rockies lifting 

Toward the deeper blue above, 
There is neither flaw nor shifting 

In the title of my love. 

My own! my own! 
Many a silent, sunny zone, 

With the soft cloud shadows drifting 
On the desert and the sown! 

I would have no wall or warder 

Mar my goodly heritage, 
From the yuccas of the border 

To the snowy northern sage 
Glad of every wind that passes 

Down the mesa and the plain, 
Singing freedom in the grasses 

And my pony s rippling mane. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

My own! my own! 

There is freedom here alone, 

Under midnight s starry masses 
Or the day king on his throne/ 

Faith must blunder on in blinkers 

Through a city s swirling rout, 
For the milling herd of thinkers 

Blurs the way of wisdom out; 
But where stainless sky is bending 

Over never-furrowed sod 
There s an open trail ascending 

To the presence of a Godl 

My own! my own! 

Where the troubled eyes are shown 

Heaven and earth forever blending 
Round the blue rim of the known! 


New Poems 


Written for Eben W. Martin 

Old camp-mate, black and rough to see, 
A hard-worked aid and ally you 
In all my single-handed wars 
With naked nature s savagery. 
Your scars are marks of service true, 
Dear loving-cup of out-o -doors, 
And history in every spot 
Has battered you, old coffee-pot. 

Oh, black Pandora-box of dreams! 
Though dry of drink for mortal needs, 
Out of your spout what fancies flow! 
The flash of trout in sunny streams, 
The swoop of ducks among the reeds, 
The buck that paws the reddened snow 
What suns and storms, what dust and mire, 
What gay, tanned faces round the fire! 

So, vividly as clouds that blaze 
Above a sunset s rainy red, 
Scene after scene, you bring to me 
The camps and trails of other days. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

And as a shell, long dry and dead, 
Holds echoes of its native sea, 
So dear old murmurs, half forgot, 
Rise from your depths, old coffee-pot. 

I hear the stir of horses hoofs, 
The solemn challenge of the owl, 
The wind song on the piny height, 
The lilt of rain on canvas roofs, 
The far-off coyote s hungry howl, 
And all the camp sounds of the night. 
They rise a thousand things like these 
From you, old well of memories. 

Our fires are dead on hill and plain 
And old camp faces lost and gone, 
But yet we two are left, old friend. 
And as the summers bloom and wane 
May I meet you at dusk and dawn 
By many fires before the end, 
And drink to you in nectar hot 
From your black throat, old coffee-pot. 

1 86 

New Poems 


All mornin in the mesa s glare 
After his crouchin back I clattered, 

And quick shots cut the heavy air 
And on the rocks the hot lead spattered. 

A dollar crimped, a word too free 
My enemy! My enemy! 

He reined beside a rattlers den 
And faced me there to fix the winnin . 

And I wished that he would turn again, 
For it was hard to kill him grinnin . 

His hands were empty, I could see. 
My enemy! My enemy! 

He pointed up; he pointed back. 
I looked, and half forgot my hatin . 

A coyote sneaked along our track, 
A buzzard hung above us, waitin . 

"Are us four all akin?" says he. 
My enemy! My enemy! 

The coyote crossed the desert s rim, 
The buzzard circled up and faded. 

Sun and Saddle Leather 

I halved my only smoke with him 
And when dark found us limp and jaded, 
He sat and kep the fire for me, 
My enemy! My enemy!! 


New Poems 


Once again the regiments marching down the 

Shoulders, legs and rifle barrels swinging 

all in time. 
Let the slack civilian plod; ours the gayer 


Dancing to the music of the oldest earthly 

Left! Right! Trim and tight, hear the ca 
dence fall. 
(So the legion Caesar loved shook the 

plains of Gaul.) 
Fighting bloods of all the earth in our pulses 


Step, lads, true to the dads! Back to the 
fighting swing! 

We have kissed goodbye to care, left the fret 

and stew. 

Now the crows may steal the corn; now 
the milk may spill. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

All the worries in the world simmer down to 


One is how to dodge the shells ; one is how 
to kill. 

Left/ Right/ Glints of light down the lines 

they run. 
(So the Janizary spears caught the desert 

Once again the fighting steel has its ancient 

Flash! sway! battle array. Back to the 
fighting swing! 

Every eye is hard and straight; every head 

is high. 
Groping, wrangling days are done; let the 

leaders lead. 

Regulations how to live, orders when to die 
Life and death in primer print any man 
can read. 

Left! Right! Eat and fight! Dreams are 
blown to bits. 


New Poems 

(Here s the Old Guard back to life, bound 

for Austerlitz.) 
Drop the soft and quit the sweet; loose the 

arms that cling. 

Blood, dust f grapple and thrust back to 
the fighting swing! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


Kissed me from the saddle and I still can 

feel it burning, 
But he must have felt it cold, for ice was 

in my veins. 
I shall always see him as he waved above the 

Riding down the canyon to the smoke-blue 

Oh, the smoke-blue plains! how I used to 

watch them sleeping, 
Thinking peace had dimmed them with the 

shadow of her wings ; 
Now their gentle haze will seem a smoke of 

death a-creeping, 

Drifted from the battles in the country of 
the kings. 

Joked me to the last, and in a voice without a 

Man o mine! but underneath the tan his 

cheek was pale. 
Never did the nation breed a kinder or a 


Since our fathers landed from the long sea 


New Poems 

Oh, the long sea trail he must leave me here 

and follow 
He that never saw a ship to dare its 

chances blind, 
Out the deadly reaches where the sinking 

steamers wallow. 

Back to trampled countries that his fathers 
left behind. 

Down beyond the plains among the fighting 

and the dying, 

God must watch his reckless foot and fol 
low where it lights ; 
Guard the places where his blessed tousled 

head is lying 
Head my shoulder pillowed through the 

warm, safe nights! 
Oh, the warm, safe nights, and the pines 

above the shingles! 
Can I stand their crooning and the patter 

of the rains? 
Oh, the sunny quiet, and a bridle bit that 


Coming up the canyon from the smoke- 
blue plains! 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


The daybreak comes so pure and still. 

He said that I was pure as dawn, 
That day we climbed to Signal Hill, 

Back there before the war came on. 
God keep me pure as he is brave, 

And fit to take his name. 
I let him go and fight to save 

Some other girl from shame. 

Across the gulch it glimmers white, 

The little house we plotted for. 
We would be sitting there tonight 

If he had never gone to war 
The firelight and the cricket s cheep, 

My arm around his neck 
I let him go and fight to keep 

Some other home from wreck. 

And every day I ride to town 

The wide lands talk to me of him 

The slopes with pine trees marching down, 
The spread-out prairies, blue and dim. 


(P) Iluffmaii-StevfiiMin. 

"If lien the last free trail is a prim, fenced lane 

And our graves grow weeds through forgetful May*, 

Richer and statelier then you ll reign, 

Mother of men whom the world will praise. 

And your sons will love you and sigh for you, 

Labor and battle and die for you, 

Bui never the fondest will understand 

The way we have loved you, young, young land." 

See page 97 

New Poems 

He loved it for the freedom s sake 

Almost as he loved me. 
I let him go and fight to make 

Some other country free. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch to war 
When the low sun yellowed the pines. 

He waved to his folks in the cabin door 
And yelled to the men at the mines. 

The gulch kept watch till he dropped from 

Neighbors and girl and kin. 

Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch one night; 
Next morning the world came in. 

His dad went back to the clinking drills 

And his mother cooked for the men; 
The pines branched black on the eastern hills, 

Then black to the west again. 
But never again, by dusk or dawn, 

Were the days in the gulch the same, 
For back up the trail Jeff Hart had gone 

The trample of millions came. 

Then never a clatter of dynamite 
But echoed the guns of the Aisne, 

And the coyote s wail in the woods at night 
Was bitter with Belgium s pain. 


New Poems 

We heard the snarl of a savage sea 

In the pines when the wind went through, 

And the strangers Jeff Hart fought to free 
Grew folks to the folks he knew. 

Jeff Hart has drifted for good and all, 

To the ghostly bugles blown, 
But the far French valley that saw him fall 

Blood kin to the gulch is grown; 
And his foreign folks are ours by right 

The friends that he died to win. 
Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch one night; 

Next morning the world came in. 


Sun and Saddle Leather 

Do you mind that old fight in The Rattles, 

Whether sheep or cattle men should rule? 
Was it that, or was it like most battles 

Just a drink too many, or a fool? 
Anyhow, we all were feelin funny, 

Strong with lopin weeks of wind and sun, 
Gay, for every hand was full of money, 

Safe, for every sinner packed a gun. 
Hi! My! We know it, you and I 

J Twas safer in the days we packed a gun. 

Seems to me that Hell bulged up from under 

Through the floor, volcano-like, and 

Spits of leaded lightnin with its thunder, 

Swearin imps a-whirlin through the 

Dodgin , shootin fast as they were able, 

Glass and flyin splinters in a spray 
I was jammed behind a poker table, 

So I had to pull and blaze away. 
Hi! My! Who of us thought to die? 

All we knowed was pull and blaze away. 


New Poems 

So we had a rippin roarin revel 

With the red firewater of the kill, 
Dancin to the pipin of the devil 

Then the time arrived to pay the bill. 
Bud and Pecos, one across the other, 

Dead below the bluish powder swirls. 
Bud, that sent his money to his mother I 

Pecos, with the pigtailed little girls 1 
Hil My! I always wonder why 

The bill must go to mother and the girls 1 


Sun and Saddle Leather 


The shadow crawls up canyon walls ; the rim 

rocks flush to pink 
A sleepy night hawk lurches up among the 

pines to soar, 
And we can hear a thirsty deer tiptoeing 

down to drink 
Among the glimmering birches on the hazy 

canyon floor. 
Sister, sister, it seems a staring pity 

Somewhere there is a city, and one time 
there was a war. 

Around the bend the thickets end in field and 

garden spot, 
And little ranches lifting smokes that make 

the twilight sweet. 
Beneath the smokes the women folks are 

watching pan and pot, 
While joking men are drifting in to smell 

the sizzling meat. 

Sister, sister, and is it truth or lying 
That somewhere folks are dying for the 
want of things to eat? 


New Poems 

Along the hill the winds are still, and still, 

blue shadows rise, 
And quiet bats are winging out, but down 

the canyon floor 
The swift creek purls in dusky swirls that 

mind me of your eyes 
And keeps the stillness singing here for 

ever, evermore. 

Sister, sister, and is it true, I wonder 
Somewhere the loud streets thunder, and 
one time there was a war. 

20 1 





LD 2lA-60m-4, 64 

General Library 
University of California 



B0005M50 C )S